[linux-elitists] 32 essential computer books?

Nick Moffitt nick@zork.net
Thu Dec 18 13:25:13 PST 2003

begin  Ben Woodard  quotation:
> On Thu, 2003-12-18 at 10:02, Jim Thompson wrote:
> > The Art of Computer Programming, Volumes 1-3, Donald Knuth.
> I think that these are fine books but I'd have to argue with you
> regarding them.  I think it is important for any programmer to have good
> algorithms and data structures experience but these books are not the
> way to get it. Plus they are terribly out of date not necessarily with
> regard to the information that they have but with regards to the place
> that the information has in the wider realm of computer programming.

	I would argue that they have other faaults as well.  They were
written during a time when memory accesses were equivalent to
instruction execution, and before pipelining created elaborate cache
hierarchies within a CPU.  Knuth is only *now* re-writing them for
RISC, which was So Over by 1998 that it's kind of embarassing.

	They're like good heavy leather-bound legal books: they look
impressive on your bookshelf.  

> I think that the day has passed when we want people doing their own
> implementation of X,Y, or Z data structure or algorithm. I think for
> maintainability sake, and to foster faster code development we
> should be strongly suggesting to the underlings that they use
> already extant libraries like glib with reasonably bug free and
> optimized versions of many of the fundamental building blocks. 

	And of course, this is precisely why even if they were
up-to-date, they'd be useless.  Let the GNU project write the Best
Posisble Qsort or Incremental Search algorithms.  Pull your random
numbers from /dev/ass*, and don't bother re-inventing the wheel.

	You can learn more from SICP than you can from Knuth.  

*: http://zork.net/~nick/mail/dev-ass

"Forget the damned motor car and build cities for lovers and friends."
	-- Lewis Mumford


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