Sunday, September 25, 2005

Selected Papers on Computer Science by Donald E. Knut book review

Read "Selected Papers on Computer Science" by Donald E. Knuth this afternoon. This book contains a collection of papers from the sixties to early nineties. A lot of them dealt with the connection between mathematics, computer science and how important algorithms are to computer science. There were some topics that were covered more then once, but that typically happens when combining papers from weren't originally meant to be together. In particular I liked the paper on the IBM 650. Everyone that writes about computers from that day always have humorous stories such as doing floating point addition in forty-nine steps when no one thought it was possible. Many of the papers talk about algorithms and showed examples of problems that problems that were only able to be solved once a better algorithm was found. There were interesting bits of computer science history such as discussing Von Neumann's first computer program, George Forsythe's construction of the Stanford Computer Science department, and even computer science in ancient babylon. It was an interesting book to read, but there are others that I would pick before this one.

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