Jupyter for teaching#

Nicolas M. Thiéry

LRI/LISN: Laboratoire Interdisciplinaire des Sciences du Numériques

Université Paris-Saclay

Erlangen, March 21st of 2022

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What is Jupyter?#

Jupyter notebooks#

Documents mixing: Narration, Computation, Visualization, Interaction and Programming

This slideshow is actually a Jupyter notebook!

So far we did Narration: telling a story

Now, here is a little mathematical Computation:

from sympy import *
x = symbols('x')

integrate(x/(x**2+2*x+1), x)
\[\displaystyle \log{\left(x + 1 \right)} + \frac{1}{x + 1}\]

a bit of data Visualization:

from ipyleaflet import Map, Marker
center = (48.70180933810075, 362.16683685639214)
m = Map(center=center, zoom=15)
marker = Marker(location=center, draggable=True)

a bit of Interaction:

from wealth_of_nation import application

(taken from the bqplot documentation)

and we have seen a bit of Programming.

What’s new really?#

  • Notebooks: Maple, Mathematica (90’s), Sagenb (late 00’s), IPython (10’s)

  • Web based

  • Modern technology

  • Interoperable
    Python, Julia, R, C++, and dozens of other languages / systems

  • Widely adopted (millions of notebooks / users)
    teaching, research, engineering, data science, …

Jupyter, beyond the notebook: https://jupyter.org#

An ecosystem of «Free software, open standards, and web services for interactive computing across all programming languages»

Jupyter for teaching#

A nice reference: teaching and learning with Jupyter, Barba et al.


Learn by experimenting and visualizing#

Taken from a computational graph theory course:


Soit \(G\) un graphe.

  • un chemin est une suite de sommets \((v_0, v_1, v_2, ...)\) tel qu’il existe une arête entre chaque paire de sommets \(v_i\) et \(v_{i+1}\)

  • la distance entre deux sommets u et v est la longueur du plus court chemin entre u et v (ou la somme des poids des arêtes).

  • On suppose ici que \(G\) est non orienté. La composante connexe d’un sommet \(u\) de \(G\) est l’ensemble des sommets atteignables depuis \(u\) en suivant un chemin dans \(G\).

Un algorithme:

def parcours_visualisation(G, u):
    - 'G' - un graphe
    - 'u' - un sommet du graphe
    OUTPUT: la liste des sommets `v` de `G`
            tels qu'il existe un chemin de `u` à `v`
    marked = {u} # L'ensemble des sommets déjà rencontrés
    todo   = {u} # L'ensemble des sommets déjà rencontrés, mais pas encore traités
    while todo:
        # Invariants:
        # - Si `v` est dans `marked`, alors il y a un chemin de `u` à `v`
        # - Si `v` est dans `marked` et pas dans `todo`
        #   alors tous les voisins de `v` sont dans dans `marked`
        v = todo.pop()
        # Observation des variables locales
        for w in G.neighbors(v):
            if w not in marked:
                # Observation des variables locales
        v = None
        # Observation des variables locales
    return marked

Exploration interactive:

import copy
import graph_algorithm_player
variables = [{'name': 'G',      'type': 'graph' },
             {'name': 'marked', 'type': 'nodes', 'color': 'green',  'display': True},
             {'name': 'todo',   'type': 'nodes', 'color': 'red',    'display': True},
             {'name': 'v',      'type': 'node',  'color': 'yellow', 'display': True}]
player = graph_algorithm_player.GraphAlgorithmPlayer(variables=variables)
from graph_networkx import examples
G = examples.parcours_directed()
parcours_visualisation(G, "A")
{'A', 'B', 'C', 'D', 'F', 'G', 'H'}

Learn by example#

Taken from an Introduction to Data Science class

Définir une fonction en Python :

def f(x, y, r):
    return x + y - r

Exercice: Écrire une fonction aire_rectangle(l,h) qui renvoie l’aire d’un rectangle de longueur l et de hauteur h.

def aire_rectangle(l,h):
   return l * h
assert aire_rectangle(3, 7) == 21, "aire_rectangle ne renvoie pas le résultat attendu"

Serious games#

Taken from an introductory C++/Python programming course:

from laby.global_fr import *
ModuleNotFoundError                       Traceback (most recent call last)
Cell In[10], line 1
----> 1 from laby.global_fr import *
      2 Laby("1b")

ModuleNotFoundError: No module named 'laby'

Jupyter for teaching in Paris-Saclay#

  • Dozens of computational and programming courses: Math, Biology, Physics, Computer Science, Geophysics

  • Several courses with hundreds of students at entry level

What it can bring#


Thanks to the narrative structure:

  • a clear linear path to follow

  • very localized actions to take

  • quick feedback loop

  • reduced risks to get lost

  • Each student proceeds at its own pace

  • Helps instructors focus on fragile students

  • Supports hybrid teaching from full autonomy to fully tutored


  • Students can work in the computer lab, from home, on the road

  • On tablet, cell phone, offline on their own laptop

  • All in the same environment

  • A continuous spectrum of use cases from using to authoring to developing

  • Supports percolation of resources and know-how in communities

Caveats and Tips#

Go with the flow: the routine of working through notebooks#

  • Scroll scroll scroll. Execute, execute, execute

  • Think?

  • Short notebooks: a notebook = a unitary story

  • Diversity of actions: read, try, experiment, code, debug, take notes, stop and think!

  • Interactive and visual feedback

Jupyter notebooks can get messy#

  • A sheet of paper or a chalk board is a very flexible device: sketch, scribble, draw, compute, write, …

  • It takes training to use it properly

Jupyter notebooks are not different!

  • Structure the notebooks for your students

  • Keep in mind to train your students

  • Notebooks are about narration!
    code that is not relevant to the narration belongs to code files

  • Notebooks are no replacement for specialized tools!
    IDE (programming only), word processors (narration only)

Advanced topics#

How do I make interactive slides?#


How do I make mini interactive applications?#

Jupyter widgets

from ipywidgets import Button, IntSlider, VBox
slider = IntSlider(value=3, vmin=0, vmax=10)
button = Button(description="Click me!")
button.on_click(lambda event: print(slider.value))
VBox([button, slider])

How do I publish my course?#

jupyter-book: build a static web site from a collection of notebooks

  • Example

  • Features:

    • Cross references

    • Search

    • «try it online» (currently: with public repo on github only)

How do I make it easy for my students to access Jupyter?#

JupyterHub: Software to deploy online service providing Jupyter virtual environments

Example: JupyterHub@Paris-Saclay

  • for all personnel and students

  • typical load of 100-200 simultaneous users

Reproducible environments (software, data, …)#

  • How do I make sure all the required software is available?

  • and consistent across the lab, jupyterhub, my laptop, the student laptops?

Example: conda + pip

Reproducible teaching: How do I enforce the robustness of my assignments?#

A challenge with computer assignments: the devil is in the details!

  • Is my assignment actually doable today?

  • Even after the latest XXX upgrade?

  • Are my solutions up to date?

One piece of the puzzle:

Autogenerate the student version:

def max(x,y):
	raise NotImplementedError();

from the instructor version:

def max(x,y):
	if x > y:
	    return x
		return y

e.g. with nbgrader

Another piece: Automated testing through Continuous Integration

How do I manage assignments?#

  • How do I distribute my assignment to my students?

  • How do I collect them?

  • How do I track their progress?

«Teaching computer science or computational courses is all about collaboration on code. It is thus unsurprising that, with a pinch of salt, forges like GitLab can provide helpful infrastructure to support and enhance that collaboration.»

  • GitHub classes

  • GitLab classes

  • travo:

    • git and GitLab made easy through automation

    • used by hundreds of first year students in math, physics, computer science

Notebooks as text files (with jupytext)#

  • Use your favorite text editor / tools

  • Don’t store outputs

  • Plays well with versioning

  • Saves space

How do I grade the assignments?#

Automatic and computer aided grading:

  • with Continuous Integration

  • with nbgrader

  • Students can self-evaluate

  • early feedback

How do I help student collaborate on assignments?#

  • Real time collaboration with JupyterLab

  • Asynchronous collaboration with GitLab
    Basic support in travo designed but not implemented

The Candyce project#

  • Toward a national Jupyter deployment for French (hight) schools and higher education

  • 3+2 years, 12M€, proposal submitted

  • Lead: INRIA / Paris-Saclay

  • Main work packages:

    • Software development

    • Deployment and operation

    • Adoption and coconstruction in higher education

    • Adoption and coconstruction in (high) schools

    • Adoption and coconstruction in the community

    • Learning analytics and research

Jupyter for high schools? really?#

Building on Capytale: a jupyter deployment for high schools

150000 registered students in two years of existence

Beyond Jupyter#

«Open Source Scientific Software at the fingertip of every kid, student and teacher (and researcher)»

Via on demand configurable virtual environment for (lightweight) computation

The Candyce service, in practice:

  • INPUT: a virtual environment description

    • a list of software (packaged in conda)

    • resources

  • can be named through a URL


    • a virtual machine (container) just for you

    • hosted by a trusted cloud provider

    • with access to limited physical resources

    • with the software and resources

    • and a persistent home directory for the user

    • running a web-application
      Jupyter, R-studio, visual studio, … your own

Secondary mission: the toolkit#

  • Improving the ecosystem supporting the deployment of similar infrastructures

  • Beyond France

  • Beyond education

Discussion / project topics for this week#

Jupyter for teaching#

Happy to discuss and help if I can!

Toward a semantic web of (Jupyter) teaching resources?#

Use case 1: help teachers find resources to reuse Use case 2: help student navigate resources (adaptative learning / guided tours)

  • Discussion: why and how to annotate Jupyter courses

  • Coding sprint: start annotating the corpus of Jupyter-based courses in Paris-Saclay

Write down an intention letter for the collaboration FAU / Candyce#