Much of the material in this document is taken from Appendix H.1 in the book A Primer on Scientific Programming with Python, 4th edition, by the same author, published by Springer, 2014.

Anaconda and Spyder

Anaconda is a free Python distribution produced by Continuum Analytics and contains about 200 Python packages, as well as Python itself, for doing a wide range of scientific computations. Anaconda can be downloaded from Choose Python version 2.7.

The Integrated Development Environment (IDE) Spyder is included with Anaconda and is my recommended tool for writing and running Python programs on Mac and Windows, unless you have preference for a plain text editor for writing programs and a terminal window for running them.

Spyder on Mac

Spyder is started by typing spyder in a (new) Terminal application. If you get an error message unknown locale, you need to type the following line in the Terminal application, or preferably put the line in your $HOME/.bashrc Unix initialization file:

export LANG=en_US.UTF-8; export LC_ALL=en_US.UTF-8

Installation of additional packages

Anaconda installs the pip tool that is handy to install additional packages. In a Terminal application on Mac or in a PowerShell terminal on Windows, write

pip install --user packagename

Installing SciTools on Mac

The SciTools package can be installed by pip on Mac:

Terminal> pip install --user -e \ 

Installing SciTools on Windows

The safest procedure on Windows is to go to and click on Download ZIP. Double-click on the downloaded file in Windows Explorer and perform Extract all files to create a new folder with all the SciTools files. Find the location of this folder, open a PowerShell window, and move to the location, e.g.,

Terminal> cd C:\Users\username\Downloads\scitools-2db3cbb5076a

Installation is done by

Terminal> python install