The Art of Computer Programming, worth it?

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15 Replies - 4795 Views - Last Post: 17 December 2012 - 04:07 PM

#1 Lemur  Icon User is offline

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The Art of Computer Programming, worth it?

Posted 15 December 2012 - 11:24 PM

http://www.amazon.co...d/dp/0321751043

It seems like an interesting set, but I'm not sure if it warrants the ~$200 price tag.

From the perspective of a new CS graduate (new as in today), would you say this set is a wise investment?

I'm sure a topic like this will help others decide on the value of books and sets of this nature as well.

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#2 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is offline

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Re: The Art of Computer Programming, worth it?

Posted 16 December 2012 - 12:43 AM

I suppose it depends mostly on how much time and effort you're going to put into working on the material in the set. If you're not going to read it, then it's about four inches of shelf space occupied at a cost of over $50 per linear inch. If you intend to read and learn the material, the dollar cost of the books is nothing compared to the time you're willing to invest in learning the stuff, and a minute fraction of nothing compared to the time you'd save over getting this material in any other way. Your call.
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#3 tlhIn`toq  Icon User is offline

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Re: The Art of Computer Programming, worth it?

Posted 16 December 2012 - 08:01 AM

They are going to be all concept theory not tied to a specific language.

First worry about learning a language well. Get a basic understanding of what programming is and if you even like it. Then go to the public library and look at the books with a bit more understanding to see if they even make sense and are worth it to you.
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#4 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is offline

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Re: The Art of Computer Programming, worth it?

Posted 16 December 2012 - 08:15 AM

View PosttlhIn`toq, on 16 December 2012 - 10:01 AM, said:

First worry about learning a language well.


Right, I think Lemur's got that part sorted. :)
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#5 tlhIn`toq  Icon User is offline

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Re: The Art of Computer Programming, worth it?

Posted 16 December 2012 - 08:23 AM

True - but he did say

Quote

From the perspective of a new CS graduate (new as in today)

Which tends to mean (for the rest of the new graduates reading this thread) that they don't know their arse from the bit-bucket. Most brand new graduates still need to learn the language they just went to school for.
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#6 baavgai  Icon User is offline

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Re: The Art of Computer Programming, worth it?

Posted 16 December 2012 - 09:09 AM

Looks like a shelf stuffer for a CS professor.

Knuth's effort is iconic. It is a significant work in computer science. With that in mind, every element that you will find applicable to modern computer science has been told and retold. If you didn't read the material directly, you have still been exposed to in the course of acquiring a CS degree ( I hope ).

I'd read a few pages before committing. It's interesting, but will you actually read it all? Knuth didn't even have a computer when he wrote this stuff. Even the computer he's giving examples for is theoretical. ( Though people have implemented VMs since. )
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#7 Lemur  Icon User is offline

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Re: The Art of Computer Programming, worth it?

Posted 16 December 2012 - 10:55 AM

As a reference, I've read almost all of these, and this picture is about 2-3 months old and 1.5 foot shorter than my current collection.

Posted Image

(I had to have two of my friends help to hold it up.)

I've studied Ruby pretty deeply, not to the level a seasoned vet would be but I've spent quite a bit of time learning everything I can. At this point I have working knowledge of 20 languages and I can apply 5 of them to professional jobs.

So at this point I'm more of a book lover and overly curious.

This post has been edited by Lemur: 16 December 2012 - 10:56 AM

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#8 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is offline

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Re: The Art of Computer Programming, worth it?

Posted 16 December 2012 - 02:29 PM

View Postbaavgai, on 16 December 2012 - 11:09 AM, said:

Looks like a shelf stuffer for a CS professor.

That's certainly one use for it. If you need a bibliography citation about a particular algorithm, you'll probably find it by going to Knuth.

Quote

Knuth didn't even have a computer when he wrote this stuff.


Can you clarify this? Do you mean he didn't have a personal machine, or he didn't have access to a computer to program on?


Quote

Even the computer he's giving examples for is theoretical. ( Though people have implemented VMs since. )


Of course it is: that's the point. The idea is to describe the algorithms mathematically, not to provide implementation details for some existing language. (So creating a MIX machine seems to be an exercise in point-missing)
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#9 macosxnerd101  Icon User is online

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Re: The Art of Computer Programming, worth it?

Posted 16 December 2012 - 02:51 PM

View PosttlhIn`toq, on 16 December 2012 - 10:23 AM, said:

True - but he did say

Quote

From the perspective of a new CS graduate (new as in today)

Which tends to mean (for the rest of the new graduates reading this thread) that they don't know their arse from the bit-bucket. Most brand new graduates still need to learn the language they just went to school for.

I think it's obvious here that Lemur doesn't fall into the category of someone who is unrealistic about what is expected on the job, or someone who doesn't have a very developed skill set. It's not really fair to group him into the category of one who doesn't know anything simply because he is fresh out of college, where there is plenty of evidence (in the form of his DIC posts and contributions) that speak otherwise.
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#10 baavgai  Icon User is offline

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Re: The Art of Computer Programming, worth it?

Posted 16 December 2012 - 04:43 PM

View Postjon.kiparsky, on 16 December 2012 - 04:29 PM, said:

Quote

Knuth didn't even have a computer when he wrote this stuff.


Can you clarify this? Do you mean he didn't have a personal machine, or he didn't have access to a computer to program on?


To clarify, he didn't write for any particular computer he had. Further, he didn't write for any computer anyone else had, either.

He had access to computers. He programmed them. The idea of a personal machine was still many years off. This might be one of the reasons he thought envisioning a simplified computer would be a better choice for his work.
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#11 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is offline

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Re: The Art of Computer Programming, worth it?

Posted 16 December 2012 - 06:51 PM

View Postbaavgai, on 16 December 2012 - 06:43 PM, said:

To clarify, he didn't write for any particular computer he had. Further, he didn't write for any computer anyone else had, either.

He had access to computers. He programmed them. The idea of a personal machine was still many years off.


Okay, so we're on the same page. I just wanted to make sure we didn't leave anybody thinking that he was just sort of making this stuff up from thin air. (as Turing or Lovelace had to do)

Quote

This might be one of the reasons he thought envisioning a simplified computer would be a better choice for his work.


I think the reason was a little simpler than that. I think he just didn't want to privilege any particular language or any particular machine in his descriptions of the algorithms, so he developed an imaginary computer to write them for, and an imaginary assembly language to write them in.
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#12 lordofduct  Icon User is online

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Re: The Art of Computer Programming, worth it?

Posted 17 December 2012 - 09:08 AM

I own this set, I didn't pay anywhere near that much money for it.

Awesome series though... thoroughly enjoyed it.

I also got "Concrete Mathematics" to go with it (co-authored by Knuth). That was really good to, a great quick reference book for computer related math.

This post has been edited by lordofduct: 17 December 2012 - 09:09 AM

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#13 j4v3d  Icon User is offline

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Re: The Art of Computer Programming, worth it?

Posted 17 December 2012 - 09:47 AM

View PostLemur, on 16 December 2012 - 10:55 AM, said:

As a reference, I've read almost all of these, and this picture is about 2-3 months old and 1.5 foot shorter than my current collection.

Posted Image

(I had to have two of my friends help to hold it up.)

I've studied Ruby pretty deeply, not to the level a seasoned vet would be but I've spent quite a bit of time learning everything I can. At this point I have working knowledge of 20 languages and I can apply 5 of them to professional jobs.

So at this point I'm more of a book lover and overly curious.


You certainly love to read dont you and learn everything possible!

How much have you spent on the books then?
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#14 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is offline

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Re: The Art of Computer Programming, worth it?

Posted 17 December 2012 - 09:52 AM

View Postlordofduct, on 17 December 2012 - 11:08 AM, said:

I own this set, I didn't pay anywhere near that much money for it.

Awesome series though... thoroughly enjoyed it.

I also got "Concrete Mathematics" to go with it (co-authored by Knuth). That was really good to, a great quick reference book for computer related math.



About the third book from the bottom in that photo...

View Postj4v3d, on 17 December 2012 - 11:47 AM, said:

You certainly love to read dont you and learn everything possible!

How much have you spent on the books then?



Estimation is a useful skill. ~75 books visible @ ~$50 per, so ~ $3500-$4000 for that stack, assuming they were purchased new.
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#15 DarenR  Icon User is offline

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Re: The Art of Computer Programming, worth it?

Posted 17 December 2012 - 10:00 AM

I ahave many books but the google machine is my most favorite resource.

congrats on the degree

This post has been edited by DarenR: 17 December 2012 - 10:01 AM

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