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What books are you reading?

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mouser:
I'm halfway through, and enjoying thoroughly:

"The D Programming Language" by Andrei Alexandrescu:



D is heavily based on C++, but attempts to modernize the language while still keeping a focus on efficiency and systems level programming.  It's an interesting language, with a lot to like about it for those who want to keep as close to the C++ spirit while still breaking away from backward compatibility and avoiding the messiness of C++0x.

I've previously read the earlier book "Learn to Tango with D" which is a good fast intro to the language, but recently D underwent a fairly dramatic change, labeled itself D 2.0, and this book is a much different fish.  Alexandrescu's book is deep, interesting, and serious.  It's a great book for those of us who are perhaps not as much interested in USING the language, but are keenly interested in programming language design decisions.  Very enjoyable reading, especially coming from a C++ background.

i'll note that this represents a redemption of Alexandrescu in my mind, since his previous book that i've read, Modern C++ Design: Generic Programming and Design Patterns Applied represented an impressively cool and twisted book on the use of C++ template programming that i think serves as a good example of exactly how not to program.

40hz:
One book I'm currently plowing through is Stephen Wolfram's  massive (1192 pages and 5.5 lbs!) tome: A New Kind of Science.



I've heard so much about this guy that I couldn't wait to see what he had to say about his own work - as opposed to what others have said about it.

Occasionally interesting, often repetitious, and chock full of the author's inflated notions of self-importance. Much like the Wolfram|Alpha engine itself, there's a good chance there's far less here than meets the eye.

I also have an occasional problem with his making personal claims to "discoveries" and insights that have obviously been made by others long before him. Either this guy has an ego the size of a truck, or he is painfully oblivious to all the mathematical research going on around him.

Since I'm reading it a few pages at a time (with just before bedtime tea) I've only made it about a third of the way through so far. I'll probably finish it since I keep thinking there's something I'm missing, with hopes it doesn't turn out to be mostly smoke and snake oil.

On a positive note, it is well written and nicely illustrated.  :-\

---------

Note: I got my copy at our local library book sale for four bucks. If I had plunked down the $45 cover price I'd be pretty pissed with myself right now.
 ;D

mouser:
Occasionally interesting, often repetitious, and chock full of the author's inflated notions of self-importance. Much like the Wolfram|Alpha engine itself, there's a good chance there's far less here than meets the eye.

I also have an occasional problem with his making personal claims to "discoveries" and insights that have obviously been made by others long before him. Either this guy has an ego the size of a truck, or he is painfully oblivious to all the mathematical research going on around him.
--- End quote ---

i've read it and would echo everything you've said but suggest you are understating the crappiness.

i'm not sure if i've already written about how irritated i was with the book here on this forum or just in countless emails when i read it a couple of years ago.

The bottom line is that while the book may help inspire you to think about some interesting things, it much better used as an example for scientists about why its such a bad idea to isolate yourself from the rest of the scientific community and try to write an epic book without paying any attention to what anyone else is doing for 20 years and without getting any feedback.

The things that are genuinely interesting in the book were noted and explored better by smarter people decades ago, and go completely uncited in the book.  and the rest of the book is wolfram over and over and over telling you how amazing and insane and hard to understand the concept of complexity emerging from simple rules is -- something which became completely non-controversial a long long time ago.

Just working from a faint memory now, but I also think there are some other more interesting problems with the book.  I had the chance to press Wolfram about these at a talk he gave once. For example i think there is a central and interesting problem with Wolfram's book, in that the kinds of emergent systems he is most interested in are these that are largely unpredictable without explicit single-step simulation.. and he connects this with natural phenomena (and many have explored long ago fractal patterns in nature, snail shells, etc.); but when considering the physical world one can't help but be impressed by how incredibly predictable much of it is at long timescales, for example paths of planets, etc.  I think i would argue that these "unpredictable" emergent systems that wolfram focuses on as the key to understanding the natural world are precisely NOT the kinds of systems we see for functionally significant large-scale systems in nature.  But now we are getting into some esoteric stuff.

40hz:
@Mouser: well...that ringing 'endorsement' is enough to make me decide to cut my losses and stop reading Wolfram. I've got enough far more interesting books I want to get caught up on that there's no point in my wasting the effort to chug through those last 800 pages.

Thx for the input.  :Thmbsup:

(And all this time I thought maybe it was just...me!)

---

P.S. If anybody wants this book, drop me a PM and I'll mail it to you if your address is in the USA. :mrgreen:

phitsc:
I'm halfway through, and enjoying thoroughly:

"The D Programming Language" by Andrei Alexandrescu:

(see attachment in previous post)

D is heavily based on C++, but attempts to modernize the language while still keeping a focus on efficiency and systems level programming.  It's an interesting language, with a lot to like about it for those who want to keep as close to the C++ spirit while still breaking away from backward compatibility and avoiding the messiness of C++0x.

I've previously read the earlier book "Learn to Tango with D" which is a good fast intro to the language, but recently D underwent a fairly dramatic change, labeled itself D 2.0, and this book is a much different fish.  Alexandrescu's book is deep, interesting, and serious.  It's a great book for those of us who are perhaps not as much interested in USING the language, but are keenly interested in programming language design decisions.  Very enjoyable reading, especially coming from a C++ background.

i'll note that this represents a redemption of Alexandrescu in my mind, since his previous book that i've read, Modern C++ Design: Generic Programming and Design Patterns Applied represented an impressively cool and twisted book on the use of C++ template programming that i think serves as a good example of exactly how not to program.
-mouser (November 13, 2010, 12:19 PM)
--- End quote ---

I've read an article about D written by Alexandrescu and really liked his writing style. Probably because we seem to share the same kind of humour. I can remember now that I thought I'd probably read that book once it's available just because of that :).

I honestly can't remember if I found Modern C++ design funny ;)

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