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Integer Squaring

Integer Squaring

Project Goals

This engineering effort invites you to combine what you learned about the basics of Python programming to implement a useful program that can compute the square for all of the integer values stored inside of a file. As part of this project you will learn how to navigate the source code in a Python file, perform file input and output using Path objects from pathlib, implement Python functions, and implement and test functions that contain either a for and or a while loops. As you enhance your technical skills, you will implement a Python program and write technical content in Markdown while using tools such as VS Code, a terminal window, the Python programming language, and the Poetry package manager. Ready for some fun with programming? Okay, let's get started!

Project Access

If you are a student enrolled in a Computer Science class at Allegheny College, you can access this assignment by clicking the link provided to you in Discord. Once you click this link it will create a GitHub repository that you can clone to your computer by following the general-purpose instructions in the description of the technical skills. Specifically, you will need to use the git clone command to download the project from GitHub to your computer. Now you are ready to add source code and documentation to the project!


If you are an emerging proactive programmer who is not enrolled in a Computer Science class at Allegheny College, you can still work on this assignment! To get started, you should click the "Use this template" icon in the integer-squaring-starter GitHub repository and create your own version of this project's source code. After creating your GitHub repository, you can follow all of the other steps!

Expected Output

This project invites you to implement a number squaring program called square. You can install the dependencies for the square program and ensure that it is ready to run by using your terminal to type the command poetry install in the square/ directory that contains the pyproject.toml and poetry.lock files. The program can accept as input a file of numbers, a directory that contains the this file, and the name of an approach to squaring an integer. If you run the program correctly, it will iterate through the file of numbers, compute the square for each number, and output a complete list of the squared values. For instance, if you run the program with the command poetry run square --approach for --directory input --file numbers.txt it produces this output:

😃 Squaring numbers in a file called input/numbers.txt!


In addition to having a feature that lets you square numbers using a for loop, the square program can perform the same task by using a while loop! If you run the program with the command poetry run square --approach while --directory input --file numbers.txt then the program should produce the same output as given above this paragraph. If you run the command poetry run square --help you should see the following output that explains how to use the square program:

 Usage: square [OPTIONS]

 Provide a command-line interface for iteratively squaring all integers
 in a file.

╭─ Options ─────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────╮
│ --approach                  [for|while]  [default: for]               │
│ --directory                 PATH         [default: None]              │
│ --file                      PATH         [default: None]              │
│ --install-completion                     Install completion for the   │
│                                          current shell.               │
│ --show-completion                        Show completion for the      │
│                                          current shell, to copy it or │
│                                          customize the installation.  │
│ --help                                   Show this message and exit.  │

Please note that the provided source code does not contain all of the functionality to produce this output. As explained in the next section, you are invited to add all of the missing features and ensure that square produces the expected output. Once the program is working correctly, you should also try to use it when specifying a file that is not available on your computer! For instance, if you run it with the command poetry run square --approach for --directory input --file numberswrong.txt then it will not perform the number squaring and instead produce the following output:

😃 Squaring numbers in a file called input/numberswrong.txt!

🤷 input/numberswrong.txt was not a valid file! Sorry, cannot square the

Don't forget that if you want to run the square program you must use your terminal window to first go into the GitHub repository containing this project and then go into the square/ directory that contains the project's source code. Finally, remember that before running the program you must run poetry install to add the dependencies.

Adding Functionality

If you study the file square/square/ you will see that it has many TODO markers that designate the parts of the program that you need to implement before square will produce correct output. If you run the provided test suite with the command poetry run task test you will see that it produces output like the following:

================================ ERRORS =================================
_________________ ERROR collecting tests/ _________________
tests/ in <module>
    from square import main
square/ in <module>
E   NameError: name 'cli' is not defined
======================== short test summary info ========================
ERROR tests/ - NameError: name 'cli' is not defined
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! stopping after 1 failures !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Interrupted: 1 error during collection !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
=========================== 1 error in 0.14s ============================

Alternatively, running the program with a command like poetry run square --approach for --directory input --file numbers.txt will produce the following output:

Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "<string>", line 1, in <module>
  File "/home/gkapfham/.asdf/installs/python/3.10.5/lib/python3.10/importlib/", line 126, in import_module
    return _bootstrap._gcd_import(name[level:], package, level)
  File "<frozen importlib._bootstrap>", line 1050, in _gcd_import
  File "<frozen importlib._bootstrap>", line 1027, in _find_and_load
  File "<frozen importlib._bootstrap>", line 1006, in _find_and_load_unlocked
  File "<frozen importlib._bootstrap>", line 688, in _load_unlocked
  File "<frozen importlib._bootstrap_external>", line 883, in exec_module
  File "<frozen importlib._bootstrap>", line 241, in _call_with_frames_removed
  File "/home/gkapfham/working/teaching/github-classroom/proactive-programmers/data-abstraction/starters/engineering-efforts/integer-squaring-starter/square/square/", line 54, in <module>
NameError: name 'cli' is not defined

This output suggests that the cli variable was not correctly defined! After correctly resolving this issue --- all while following the relevant instructions in the description of the technical skills --- you should find the other TODO markers and correctly resolve them. For instance, you can add this function to the file:

def confirm_valid_file(file: Path) -> bool:
    """Confirm that the provided file is a valid path."""
    # determine if the file is not None and if it is a file
    if file is not None:
        # the file is valid
        if file.is_file():
            return True
    # the file was either none or not valid
    return False

Line 1 of this function defines the signature of confirm_valid_file, showing that it will take as input a Path object and return as output a bool to indicate whether or not the file is valid. Lines 4 through 7 confirm that the file is valid and True if it is both not None and a valid file. Alternatively, line 9 returns False to indicate that file is not valid. In addition to confirm_valid_file, you must also implement these functions:

  • def compute_square_while(value: int) -> int
  • def compute_square_for(value: int) -> int
  • def compute_square_iterative(contents: str, square_function: Callable[[int], int]) -> List[int]:

It is worth noting that the compute_square_iterative function is a higher-order function that accepts as one of its inputs the square_function that should be either compute_square_for or compute_square_while. The person running the square program can pick which of these functions the program will call by specifying either for or while as one of the program's command-line arguments. The square program uses the Typer package and the following source code to ensure that the program only accepts one of these two options. For instance, if you try to run the program with the command poetry run square --approach recursion --directory input --file numbers.txt it will produce the following error message because recursion is not a valid option:

Usage: square [OPTIONS]
Try 'square --help' for help.
╭─ Error ───────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────╮
│ Invalid value for '--approach': 'recursion' is not one of 'for',      │
│ 'while'.                                                              │

The square program contains the following source code to specify the valid options:

class IntegerSquareApproach(str, Enum):
    """Define the name of the approach to squaring a number."""

    FOR_LOOP = "for"
    WHILE_LOOP = "while"

Line 1 of this code segment defines a new class called IntegerSquareApproach that operates as a enumeration of values. Specifically, an instance of the IntegerSquareApproach will have a value variable that is either equal to FOR, designating that the input integer should be squared through iteration with a for loop or equal to WHILE, meaning that it should complete the same task with a while loop. The square program uses the IntegerSquareApproach to define the acceptable arguments that a person can pass to it through its command-line interface.


It is possible that you will become overwhelmed by the details associated with Python programming as you implement all of the required functionality for the square program. If you get stuck on any aspect of this project, take the time to write out a list of steps that you have already taken, a summary of what worked and did not work, and the current questions that you have. After taking these important steps, you can share a status update and ask questions in either the GitHub discussions forum or the Proactive Programmers Discord server. Before you ask your question, please read the advice concerning how to best participate in the Proactive Programmers community.

Running Checks

If you study the source code in the pyproject.toml file you will see that it includes the following section that specifies different executable tasks like lint. If you are in the square directory that contains the pyproject.toml file and the poetry.lock file, the tasks in this section make it easy to run commands like poetry run task lint to automatically run all of the linters designed to check the Python source code in your program and its test suite. You can also use the command poetry run task black to confirm that your source code adheres to the industry-standard format defined by the black tool. If it does not adhere to the standard then you can run the command poetry run black square tests and it will automatically reformat the source code.

Along with running tasks like poetry run task lint, you can leverage the relevant instructions in the technical skills to run the command gatorgrade --config config/gatorgrade.yml to check your work. If your work meets the baseline requirements and adheres to the best practices that proactive programmers adopt you will see that all the checks pass when you run gatorgrade. You can study the config/gatorgrade.yml file in your repository to learn how the GatorGrade program runs GatorGrader to automatically check your program and technical writing.

It is worth noting that the test suite for the square program is missing a test case! You can create the missing test case by following the example of the following test:

def test_compute_square_iterative_for_loop():
    """Confirm that the for loop calculates squares correctly for negatives and positives in loop."""
    number_list = """-72
    square_function = main.compute_square_for
    square_list = main.compute_square_iterative(number_list, square_function)
    assert square_list == [72 * 72, 29 * 29, 61 * 61, 42 * 42, 44 * 44]

This test case takes the following steps:

  • Lines 3 through 7: Create a number_list multiple-line string with integers for squaring
  • Line 8: Defines the square_function to be the compute_square_for function in main
  • Line 9: Calls compute_square_iterative with number_list and square_function
  • Line 9: Stores the output of the compute_square_iterative function in square_list
  • Line 10: Asserts that the square_list variable contains the squares of each number

You should write a new test that follows these steps for the compute_square_while function! Finally, please make sure that you explain all of the steps in these test cases by adding single-line comments to each line in every test case function.


Don't forget that when you commit source code or technical writing to your GitHub repository for this project, it will trigger the run of a GitHub Actions workflow. If you are a student at Allegheny College, then running this workflow consumes build minutes for the course's organization! As such, you should only commit to your repository once you have made substantive changes to your project and you are ready to confirm its correctness. Before you commit to your repository, you can should run checks on your own computer by running gatorgrade --config config/gatorgrade.yml.

Project Reflection

Once you have finished both of the previous technical tasks, you can use a text editor to answer all of the questions in the writing/ file. For instance, you should provide the output of the Python program in a fenced code block, explain the meaning of the Python source code segments that you implemented, and answer all of the other questions about your experiences in completing this project.


To ensure that you master the technical and professional skills introduced as part of this project you need to participate in deliberate practice that "requires both a clear performance goal and immediate informative feedback".1 After reflecting on the challenges that you faced and identifying areas for improvement, make a list of SMART goals that will enable you to more effectively put a specific technical skill into practice, follow your plan, and continually work to improve.2 You can learn more about how to best reflect on your experiences and improve before starting your next project by reviewing the technical skills that a proactive programmer should master!

Project Assessment

Since this project is an engineering effort, it is aligned with the evaluating and creating levels of Bloom's taxonomy. You can learn more about how a proactive programming expert will assess your work by examining the assessment strategy. From the start to the end of this project you may make an unlimited number of reattempts at submitting source code and technical writing that meet all aspects of the project's specification.


Before you finish all of the deliverables required by this project is worth pausing to remember that the instructor will give advance feedback to any Allegheny College learner who requests it through GitHub and Discord at least 24 hours before a project's due date! Seriously, did you catch that? This policy means that you can have a thorough understanding of ways to improve your project before its final assessment! To learn more about this opportunity, please read the assessment strategy for this site.

Seeking Assistance

Emerging proactive programmers who have questions about this project are invited to ask them in either the GitHub discussions forum or the Proactive Programmers Discord server. Before you ask your question, please read the advice concerning how to best participate in the Proactive Programmers community. If you find a mistake in this project, please describe it and propose a solution by creating an issue in the GitHub Issue Tracker.

  1. See Merriam-Webster for the definition of Teaching Tech Together for more details about how to effectively learn technical skills. What practical steps can you take to best ensure that you can master the technical skills of a proactive programmer? 

  2. See the article called How to write SMART goals for an overview of how to create SMART goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. In your view, what are the benefits of ensuring that your goals fit into the SMART paradigm? 

Updated: 2023-08-20   Created: 2021-08-10
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