read. They are also not cheap, costing about £20 each, although there is a
paperback of Vol 1, and possibly also of the others. I’m in the process of
reading them, and mention them here to draw your attention to them.
If you are into Statistics, you might wish to look out for:
Basic Statistical Computing by Cooke, Craven and Clarke,
published by Arnold (circa £6.50)
This is a book to show how microcomputers can be used in the analysis of
statistical data. It gives fully documented listings of many statistical
procedures in BASIC (the shame of it!) and claims that they have been proved on
four common micros. If you are into statistical analysis, this might well save
you a lot of work.
Without wishing to cast aspertions on Knuth’s master work, I have kept
the good wine until last.
The Mythical Man Month by F.P.Brooks,
publ. Addison Wesley, costs cirea £7.
This is a series of 15 short humourous essays on various aspects of writing large
complex computer programs. It is based on Brooks experience as director of the
team which wrote the operating system for the IBM 360. I first heard of this book
some five years ago, but only recently came across a copy. It has been reprinted
earlier this year (by popular demand, I think). Brooks deals lightly and
humourously with his subjects, but gets his point across – possibly the better
for the light touch. If you enjoyed reading Browns ‘Interactive Compliers and
Interpreters’ and ‘Pascal from Basic’, then I’m sure you will like this, more
particularly if you are involved with communication and management. It must rate
alongside Kernighan and Plauger’s ‘Software Tools’ as one of the seminal books.
So much for the rave review. As I’ve said before, many of these books are
textbooks and not ther lightest reading in the world. Don’t rely only on my
reaction to them. Look for them in your local technical bookshop and browse
through them before you purchase.
I realise that the foregoing reviews offer very little for the beginner.
I’ve been asked to suggest a good starting book on Assembly Language. Looking
through my bookshelves, I keep coming back to "The Z80 Microcomputer Handbook" by
Barden, published by Sams (distr. Prentice Hall), cost about £7. This was one of
the first books on programming the Z80. It taught me much of what I know on the
subject. It is readable, and accurate, which cannot be said of all 780 books!
This is the book I recommend whenever I am asked for something on assembly
language for Z80 users.
To show that I am not utterly involved in computers to the exclusion of
any trace of the humanities (as in Arts and Humanities), I have also been reading
The Sources for the Early History of Ireland – Ecclesiastical. by Kenney,
published by Columbia University Press 1929, and recently reprinted (c. £20)
This is very nearly to the early history of Ireland as Knuth is to computing
science. It surveys the extant literary sources, giving useful synopses and
references to previous publications on the subject, so that you may follow
historical lines of enquiry quite easily.