How to Think Like a Computer Scientist: Python Exercise Solutions

In this tutorial, we will dive into Python exercises and learn how to think like a computer scientist. With Python, we know from the practical aspect, which involves writing code and solving problems.

We believe that problem-solving is the engine of learning how to code. With the proper techniques, Python can be quite straightforward and fun! So let’s get started.

Step 1: Understanding the Problem

The first step to solving any problem like a computer scientist involves understanding the problem very well. It’s not just about coding, the problem itself has to be clear enough, the desired output, and the values or parameters involved.

For instance, when given an exercise like “Write a function that squares a number”, you need to know in clear terms that this function will take an argument (the number), and will return the square of that number.

Step 2: Plan the Solution

After understanding what’s expected, you need to plan your approach. How can you logically get from the input to the expected output? Identify separate tasks that need to occur, and break down the solution into logical steps.

For instance, in our exercise to square a number, the steps could be (1) Define a function, (2) take an argument, (3) calculate the square, (4) Return the result.

Step 3: Write the Code

With your plan in place, you can now write your code. Here’s a solution to the exercise using Python:

Step 4: Debug and Refine the Code

Once you have the initial code, always test it with different parameters to ensure it runs as expected. In case of any errors, it’s time to debug.

Debugging typically involves looking at error messages, checking your syntax, checking your logic, or even seeking help from Google or sites like Stack Overflow.

Now, let’s look at the full code for the square a number exercise:

Python Code:

By running this code:

We can test our function.



Note: Here, we used ‘5’ as the number for testing purposes. You can enter any other number to find its square.

Step 4: Think Like a Computer Scientist

Thinking like a computer scientist involves adopting logical thinking, debugging, decision-making, and problem-solving. Always approach coding and problem-solving with an open mind and be ready to learn.

Importantly, think about efficiency, not just getting code to run. Could there be a better way to solve the exercise? A more efficient code? Always strive for code optimization.

Although each problem may require a different approach, understanding the basic problem-solving steps, logical thinking, and constant practice will bring you closer to thinking like a computer scientist.


Learning to think like a computer scientist is not an overnight process. It’s a combination of practice, learning from failures, understanding algorithms, and above all, persistence. With Python, you have a great language that is not only popular but also versatile across domains. So keep learning and practicing. Happy coding!