In Honor of Two Great Teachers - Book Recommendations
I love to read and love when people share reading lists. There is always the excitement that surrounds the possibility of finding a new treasure. In this article I would like to share with you five tech books and five math books in honor of two of my high school teachers responsible for my love of these subjects.
Mr McClean - Computer Science
Mr McClean ran our school's computer lab. One of the extra-curricular activities he offered was to be a lab assistant. This involved things such as maintaining the machines, organizing the software, providing support, and so on. One of the things he offered to the lab assistants was an extra after school class about programming. This was offered only to the lab assistants. Now most of my friends were in this program - I was not. However, when I asked Mr McClean if I could take the after school class he granted permission, even though I was not part of the lab assistant program.
That programming class was something totally different. We were exposed to several different programming languages including good old BASIC and Pascal but also C and Prolog. We also learned the basics of programming such as loops, functions, etc -- you get the point.
All I can tell you is that I was hooked right then and there. And I kept up my programming skills as best I could right through uni and my teaching job. All I am trying to say is that because Mr Mclean let me into the class, I found so much enjoyment in a field I might not have discovered otherwise.
Thank you Mr McClean!
But How Do It Know?
But How Do It Know by J. Clark Scott introduces the reader to the inner workings of computers. Rather than focusing on programming, the book explores the hardware of computers and how it functions to execute instructions. Scott uses a simple, step-by-step approach to explain complex concepts like binary arithmetic, Boolean logic, and machine language. Through clear illustrations and straightforward language, he helps readers understand how each component of a computer works together to perform tasks.
The Ultimate History of Video Games
The Ultimate History of Video Games by Steven L. Kent chronicles the history of video games from its origins in the 1940s to arcade classics like Space Invaders and Pac-Man and to the rise of home consoles and the birth of modern gaming. Throughout the book, Kent profiles the key players in the industry, from developers and designers to business leaders and gaming enthusiasts while also exploring the cultural impact of video games.
How Computers Really Work
How Computers Really Work is a book by Matthew Justice that provides an accessible overview of how computers function. The author does not about programming. Rather he takes a hands-on approach to explaining the hardware and software components of a computer system. The use of clear language and illustrations help explain key concepts such as binary code, memory, and input/output devices. He also explores the ways in which computers communicate with each other and with humans, and how they are used in everyday life.
Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution - 25th Anniversary Edition
In this book, Steven Levy explores the origins of the computer industry and the people who played a key role in its development. The book provides an in-depth look at the culture of computer programming and hacking, tracing its roots from the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory to the rise of home computing in the 1980s. Levy profiles a number of movers and shakers in the industry, including the founders of Apple and Microsoft, as well as influential figures in the hacker community.
Modern Operating Systems
Modern Operating Systems is a book by Andrew S. Tanenbaum and Herbert Bos that provides a comprehensive overview of operating systems design and implementation. The book covers the key concepts and principles of modern operating systems, including process management, memory management, file systems, and security. It also explores the challenges and trade-offs involved in designing and implementing operating systems for different platforms, from personal computers to mobile devices and large-scale server systems. Through clear explanations and practical examples, the authors provide a detailed understanding of the inner workings of operating system. ALthough not exactly a beach read, the text is quite accessible and I found to be a rather enjoyable read. Recommended if you really want to understand what is going on "under the hood".
Mr Fowler - Maths
Like many students, I struggled with maths in high school. I barely scraped by Algebra my first year, almost failed Geometry my second year, and somehow muddled through Pre-Calculus and Trigonometry my third year. Those were the graduation requirements. Mr Fowler stopped me one day and said something to the effect of "Why are you not in my Calculus class, Albanese?" I gave him some sort of excuse and he replied "Nonsense. You're taking it." and that was that. You have to keep in mind too, that my parents did what the teacher said and I was in NO position to argue. So, in my last year of High School I found myself in Mr Fowler's class.
I LOVED IT! Right from the beginning. Mr Fowler was NOT an entertainer. His delivery was super dry and straightforward - no jokes, not a smile, nothing. But let me tell you I thought calculus was the coolest thing ever. I loved math from that point on. In fact, I loved it enough to make it a secondary study (or a minor), at uni. All this because Mr Fowler did not accept my excuse to not take the class.
So, thank you Mr Fowler!
The math books in this list do not spare the symbols and equations. However, do not let that put you off. They are all accessible and enjoyable reads. Go ahead and pick one - I am sure you will love it.
e: The Story of a Number
"The Story of a Number" by Eli Maor is a fascinating exploration of the history and significance of the number e. Maor takes readers on a journey through time, starting with the discovery of compound interest in ancient times and the development of logarithms in the 17th century. He then delves into the work of mathematicians such as Euler and Napier, who made important contributions to the study of e. Maor also discusses the numerous applications of e in fields such as calculus, physics, and engineering. Throughout the book, Maor demonstrates the beauty and importance of this mathematical constant, and shows how it continues to play a critical role in modern science and technology.
A History of Pi
"The History of Pi" by Petr Beckmann is a comprehensive account of the development of the mathematical constant pi, from its earliest approximations in ancient civilizations to its use in modern scientific calculations. Beckmann explores the fascinating stories of the many mathematicians, scientists, and engineers who contributed to the understanding of pi over the centuries, including Archimedes, Fibonacci, and Newton. He also discusses the controversies and debates surrounding the value of pi, including the infamous "squaring the circle" problem. He explains the importance of pi in fields such as geometry, physics, and engineering, and shows how this simple yet profound mathematical concept has influenced the course of human history. My favorite part is where he makes fun of Aristotle as he talks about Archimedes.
Euler: The Master of Us All
"Euler: The Master of Us All" by William Dunham is a biography of the prolific (I mean really beyond belief) mathematician Leonhard Euler, who made groundbreaking contributions to numerous fields of mathematics, including calculus, number theory, and graph theory. Dunham takes readers on a journey through Euler's life, starting with his early years in Switzerland and ending with his death in Russia. Along the way, Dunham describes Euler's major accomplishments, including his solution to the "Basel problem," his discovery of the Euler-Lagrange equation, and his invention of the concept of a function. Dunham also paints a vivid portrait of Euler's personality, showing him to be a kind and generous man who was devoted to his family and students. Throughout the book, Dunham demonstrates the brilliance and importance of Euler's work, and shows how his ideas continue to influence mathematics and science to this day.
Dr Euler's Fabulous Formula
Books about Euler's works should really get their own list. However, for now, he'll have to accept having two slots on mine. "Dr. Euler's Fabulous Formula" by Paul Nahin is a fascinating exploration of the famous equation e^(i*pi) + 1 = 0, known as Euler's identity. Nahin explains the history and significance of the formula, which relates the five most important mathematical constants (0, 1, e, i, and pi) in a single equation. Along the way, Nahin provides insights into the lives and work of the many mathematicians who contributed to the development of the formula, including Euler, Gauss, and De Moivre. Nahin also discusses the many applications of the formula in fields such as physics, engineering, and computer science. Nahin makes complex mathematical concepts accessible to the layperson, and shows how Euler's identity continues to fascinate and inspire mathematicians and scientists today.
Div, Grad, Curl and All That
"Div, Grad, Curl, and All That" by H. M. Schey is a classic text that provides an accessible introduction to the fundamental concepts of vector calculus. The book covers the three main operators of vector calculus: divergence, gradient, and curl, as well as their applications in various fields of physics, including electromagnetism and fluid dynamics. Schey presents the material in a clear and concise manner, using numerous examples and exercises to help readers develop their understanding of the subject. The book is well-suited for self-study and can serve as a valuable resource for students and professionals alike who seek to gain a deeper understanding of the mathematics underlying many areas of physics. Even though this covers more advanced topics, if you have some familiarity with calculus you should be fine. I also found the writing quite humorous and light. You might have to hunt for a copy though.