Exercises - Python Bootcamp

Constantine Lignos


  1. Data to work with
  2. Data processing
    1. Basic reading
    2. Sorting
    3. Character counts
    4. Solution
  3. Extensions
  4. Another challenge

Data to work with

We’ll work with a data set that is a count of how often each word appeared in a 1 million-word corpus of American English text called the Brown corpus. Download this wordlist. Each line has a frequency and a word separated by a space, so you can extract them by calling split on the line after you call rstrip. Each word appears only once.

You’re going to write programs to produce counts of various things in this corpus. Python provides some useful collections classes to make counting easier, such as Counter and defaultdict. We aren’t going to use those yet since they make the job too easy.

Data processing

Make a separate file for each of the following problems. You’ll want each solution to build on the previous one, so you’ll probably want to copy/paste code across them. Each file should be runnable on its own and take a single command line argument, the filename of the wordlist.

Basic reading

First, write a program that takes the input file and creates a dictionary where the keys are the words and the values are the frequencies. As a sanity check, print out 10 entries from the dictionary (keys and values) to make sure you’ve got it right.


You may want to be able to find items more easily. Building on the previous program, instead of printing out keys and values in the (arbitrary) dictionary order, sort the keys alphabetically using the sorted function and then print each word and its frequency in the sorted order.

Character counts

Let’s say we instead want to count the number of times each character appears. For example, if ‘he’ has a frequency of 9548, count that we saw ‘h’ 9548 times and ‘e’ 9548 times. Print out the frequency of each letter computed in this fashion over the wordlist.


For an example solution, look at read_wordlist.py.


If you’ve gotten to the end easily, look at how you might clean up your solutions or organize them differently. Some suggestions:

Another challenge

If you’ve made it this far, nice work!

Now it’s time to make your own wordlist. Assume you have a file that’s a tokenized version of chapters 1-2 of Pride and Prejudice. Write a program that will produce a wordlist from it. The output should look like this wordlist.

For an example solution, look at make_wordlist.py.