Computer Science

I have enjoyed the physics books I’ve recently read in the ‘…A very short introduction’-series by Oxford University Press, so I figured it might make sense to investigate whether the series also has some decent coverage of other areas of research. I must however admit that I didn’t think too much of Dasgupta’s book. I think the author was given a very tough task. Having an author write a decent short book on a reasonably well-defined sub-topic of physics makes sense, whereas having him write the same sort of short and decent book about the entire field of ‘physics’ is a different matter. In some sense something analogous to this was what Dasgupta had been asked to do(/had undertaken to do?). Of course computer science is a relatively new field so arguably the analogy doesn’t completely hold; even if you cover every major topic in computer science there might still be significantly less ground to cover here than there would be, had he been required to cover everything from Newton (…Copernicus? Eudoxus of Cnidus? Gan De?) to modern developments in M-theory, but the main point stands; the field is much too large for a book like this to do more than perhaps very carefully scratch the surfaces of a few relevant subfields, making the author’s entire endeavour exceedingly difficult to pull off successfully. I noted while reading the book that document searches for ‘graph theory’ and ‘discrete mathematics’ yielded zero results, and I assume that many major topics/areas of relevance are simply not mentioned at all, which to be fair is but to be expected considering the format of the book. The book could have been a lot worse, but it wasn’t all that great – I ended up giving it two stars on goodreads.

My coverage of the book here on the blog will be relatively lazy: I’ll only include links in this post, not quotes from the book – I looked up a lot of links to coverage of relevant concepts and topics also covered in the book while reading it, and I have added many of these links below. The links should give you some idea of which sort of topics are covered in the publication.

Church–Turing thesis.
Turing machine.
Automata theory.
Donald Knuth.
Procedural knowledge.
Machine code.
Infix notation.
Polish notation.
Time complexity.
Linear search.
Big O notation.
Computational complexity theory.
P versus NP problem.
Programming language.
Assembly language.
Hardware description language.
Data type (computer science).
Statement (computer science).
Instruction cycle.
Assignment (computer science).
Computer architecture.
Control unit.
Computer memory.
Memory buffer register.
Cache (computing).
Parallel computing (featured article).
Instruction pipelining.
Amdahl’s law.
FCFS algorithm.
Exact algorithm.
Artificial intelligence.
Means-ends analysis.


June 8, 2017 - Posted by | Books, Computer science

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