Getting Started with Jupyter Notebooks
Use Case: For Learners (Additional explanation, not ideal for researchers)
Completion time: 15 minutes
Knowledge Required: None
Knowledge Recommended: None
Data Format: None
time to demonstrate code cell execution
Research Pipeline: None
Welcome to your first Jupyter notebook. Jupyter notebooks are documents that contain both computer code (like Python) alongside explanatory images, figures, videos, and links. Most importantly, the code in a Jupyter notebook can be executed, modified, and deleted. As you explore this notebook, please feel free to modify the text, the code, and to generally play around with the environment. You can always launch another instance of this notebook that will restore its original configuration. Later, you may learn how to create, modify, and save your own notebooks to share with others.
Similar to the way an essay is composed of paragraphs, Jupyter notebooks are composed of cells. A cell is like a container for a particular kind of content. There are essentially two kinds of content in Jupyter notebooks:
# This is a code cell
A markdown cell provides information, but a code cell can be executed to perform an action. The code cell above does not contain any executable content, only a text comment. We can tell the text in the code cell is a comment because it is prefixed by a
#. In Python, any time a line is prefaced by a
# that line is a comment and will not be executed if the code is run. In a code cell, comments are also blueish-green in color.
It is traditional in programming education to begin with a program that prints
Hello World. In Python, this is a simple task. We will use the
print() function. This function simply prints out whatever is inside the parentheses (). We will pass the quotation "Hello World" to the print function like so:
Write this code into the following code cell below. To execute our code, we have a couple options:
Click the code cell you wish to run and then push the "Run" button above.
Click the code cell you wish to run and press Ctrl + Enter (Windows) or shift + return (OS X) on your keyboard.
print("Hello World") into the box below and then run the cell.
After your code runs, you'll receive any output and a number will appear in the pair of brackets
[ ]: to the left of the code cell to show the order the cell was run. If your code is complicated or takes some time to execute, an asterisk will be displayed in the pair of brackets `:` while the code executes.
Execute the code cell below which:
As the program is running, watch the pair of brackets and you will see the code is running
print('Waiting 5 seconds...') import time time.sleep(5) print('Done')
If you missed the asterisk, you can run the code cell as many times as you like. Notice that each time you run a code cell the number increases in the pair of brackets
[ ]:. This keeps track of the order cells were run. While we will always run code in order from top to bottom, keep in mind that code cells can be run in any order. If you run a code cell at the bottom of a notebook that depends on the output of a code cell at the top, you will probably get an error. When you get an error, it's a good idea to check if you missed a code cell earlier that needed to be run first.
The text in code cells can be quickly changed like a regular textbox. In order to change the content of a markdown cell, you need to expose the markdown content underneath by double-clicking the cell. This will reveal the plain text of the markdown that creates various elements like headings, links, images, etc. When you want the cell to render again, you can simply run it again by pushing the play button or pressing Ctrl + Enter (Windows) or shift + return (OS X) on your keyboard.
If you are familiar with HTML, markdown is a simplified way to write HTML elements. Basically it allows you to mark out where headings, italics, bold, and other kinds of basic formatting go. In terms of styling, markdown is very minimalist. If you would like to include an element that is not included in markdown in your notebook, you can also use HTML and CSS in your markdown cells.
Here are some basic examples to get you started. Double-click on this cell to see how each was made. There are many markdown cheatsheets available on the web. It can be useful to print one out and keep it handy.
Use asterisks around texts to add emphasis, also known as italics
You can also use underscores
A strike-thru effect is created with two tildes ~~
A list of ordered items:
Also a list item
A list item
Another list item
Also an item
This is a link to JSTOR.
Create a horizontal rule with three hyphens, asterisks, or underscores.