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What Does Python Do and What Can It Be Used For?

Python is a general-purpose programming language with a focus on code readability. One of the most popular programming languages, it’s easy to learn, simple to read, and follows an object-oriented approach.

Let’s explore what Python is used for, including its broad range of applications, then examine its limitations.

What Is Python Used For?

Python is used in a variety of applications, spanning from fintech to machine learning.

Data Science

Python’s scientific libraries make it a popular choice for data science, particularly when it comes to data analysis and visualization. Python’s popularity in data science comes down to its library support—with the power of Python libraries, data scientists have the help they need to manage complex data problems.

Read More: What Is Data Analysis and Why Is It Important?

A Python data visualization library allows you to create a wide variety of plots and visual representations including lines, bars, markers, 3D plots, and pie charts. Depending on the library you choose to work with you may also have the choice to add things like text, labels, and annotations to your visual representations.

Machine Learning

An adjacent field to data science, machine learning creates systems that are able to learn autonomously using input data. Python libraries are used to solve problems in supervised learning and reinforcement learning situations.

TensorFlow, one of the most popular open-source Python libraries for machine learning, was developed by Google Brain Team. Used at Google for research and production, developers from all corners of the world have the opportunity to use this library to tackle their own machine learning problems.

In addition to extensive open-source library support, Python is the ideal tool for machine learning because its syntax is precise and efficient, has a low entry point, and integrates well with other programming languages.

Web Development

mac laptop and code

Python is frequently found on the back-end of web applications. Behind the scenes, Python handles the server-side of the application and deals with data requests.

Its biggest strength in web development is the large selection of web frameworks available including Django, Bottle, and Flask.

Python’s combination of pre-existing libraries and web frameworks make it ideal for simple web projects to complex web apps.

Computer Science Education

Python’s code readability and simple syntax makes it an ideal teaching tool for students exploring advanced concepts in computer science. Additionally, Python supports versatile programming paradigms such as functional programming, imperative programming, object-oriented programming, and procedural programming.

Read More: The Best Websites to Learn Python Programming

Python’s many real-world applications makes it valuable for students to master and use as a tool to learn higher level concepts.

Image Processing and Computer Vision

Image processing involves applying transformations to an image before returning a new version. Computer vision is slightly more complex and involves helping the computer interpret and understand an image. Python libraries are useful for both these applications and can be used to perform operations such as cropping, flipping, rotating, detecting edges and lines, and restoring images.

Medicine and Pharmacology

man in medical lab

Python is frequently used to combine technology and medical knowledge to help diagnose and treat patients.

In the early 2000’s, AstraZeneca’s laboratory developed new drugs with the aid of Python powered computational models. This success story is just scratching the surface of what Python is capable of in the medical field.

Open-source Python medical packages have also been developed for specific tasks, such as MedPy, an open-source library for medical image processing.

Fintech and Finance

Python leads the pack in the fintech industry, according to a 2016 HackerRank survey. More broadly, Python is widely used in the financial industry, supported by a wealth of libraries specifically designed to comply with financial regulations.

Python’s breadth of open-source libraries catering to the specific requirements of the financial industry has led to its use in top fintechs such as Venmo, Zopa, and Vyze.

Neuroscience and Psychology

Python’s ability to acquire and analyze data, and test hypothesis through modeling and simulation makes it the perfect fit in computational neuroscience and experimental psychology research. The open-source package PsychoPy was developed to run experiments in Python and is used in labs worldwide for cognitive neuroscience, experimental psychology, and psychophysics.


Python is popular in tech startups because it is scalable, intuitive, and easy to use. As a testament to Python’s scalability, Dropbox was initially developed as a solution for founder Drew Houston during his university days when he kept forgetting to bring his flash drive to class. Dropbox was built on Python so it was easy to scale as registered users climbed to 100 million in 2012.

Other notable startups that built their product using Python include 21 Buttons, Deuce Tennis, TravelPerk, and Zappi.

When Is Python Not Suitable?

Python has several limitations making it unsuitable for certain types of projects.

Game and Mobile App Development

Python works with an interpreter rather than a compiler like C++ and Java. Consequently, it executes slower than compiled languages. Additionally, Python’s structures require large memory space, making it unsuitable for development where there are memory restrictions.

Read More: Reasons Why Python Isn’t the Programming Language for You

These restrictions aren’t ideal in game and mobile app development where fast processing speed and high memory consumption is required.

Database Access

Python’s database access layer is underdeveloped compared with technologies like ODBC and JDBC. When interacting with complex legacy data, a primitive database access layer is a major barrier. Security risks are also a concern, as Python is a highly insecure language.

General Development Restrictions

Python is dynamically typed which makes debugging difficult since errors only appear at run-time.

The simplicity of Python also makes it difficult for programmers to shift to other languages once they are used to the ease of programming in Python.

Plunging Into Python

There are countless programming languages, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. While no single language is a perfect catch-all, Python is a great first language due to its code readability and closeness to the English language.

Now that you know what exactly Python can be used for, why not dive right into programming in Python and create your first program?

Person Coding on Laptop
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