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Calendrical Calculations Paperback – December 10, 2007

ISBN-13: 978-0521702386 ISBN-10: 0521702380 Edition: 3rd

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 3 edition (December 10, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521702380
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521702386
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.7 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #947,982 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Because years, months, and days don't mesh simply, calendar making has been a challenge throughout history. Dershowitz and Reingold's compendium, here in its third edition, has already established itself as the definitive reference on calendrical structures. Their manual displays conversions between all the major calendar systems as well as between many fascinating schemes from bygone civilizations." Owen Gingerich, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

"One of the most fascinating books I've read all year. Takes chronology into the computer age with impressive erudition and elan. Just finding out what the calendar rules are is usually close to impossible; Calendrical Calculations tell you how to use them too. A must for everyone who worries about days, months, years - and why they never quite fit." Ian Stewart

"A good, comprehensive documentation of software for calculating dates on very many calendars." P. Kenneth Seidlmann, Director of Astronomy, U.S. Naval Observatory

"One of those rare books that is both an authoritative reference source and a fun read." Danny Hillis

"The book is a definitive account of the world's major calendars and how to use them. It will be of interest not only to mathematicians, but also to historians and laymen. The authors are to be congratulated on a splendid research job." Martin Gardner

"This book must surely become the standard work on calendar conversions. No historian, chronologist, or recreational mathematician should be without it." E.G. Richards, Nature

Book Description

This new edition of the popular calendars book expands the algorithmic treatment of the previous edition to new calendar variants: generic cyclical calendars and astronomical lunar calendars as well as the Korean, Vietnamese, Aztec, and Tibetan calendars. LISP code for all the algorithms are available on the Web.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 28, 1999
Format: Paperback
The book explains the structure of 14 calendars, and gives easily comprehensible formulae for the conversion of a date in any of these calendars into a day count, and back to the calendar date. It also includes many holidays for these calendars.
Rather than on the history of calendars or their cultural background, the focus is on a lucid, correct, and complete exposition of their functional principles. Extensive bibliographic references are given to the primary sources for each calendar.
A highlight is the complete specification of several calendars depending on fairly precise timings of astronomical phenomena (Chinese calendar and some Hindu religious calendars).
To make it self-contained, the book explains the necessary mathematical and astronomical background. The astronomical models are taken from the classic 1991 book "Astronomical Algorithms" by Jean Meeus.
I especially like the presentation of the calendrical formulae in an essentially non-algorithmic manner, using normal mathematical notation. This makes it easy to further analyze these formulae.
For instance, if one wants to know how good an approximation to the spring equinox is March 21 in the Gregorian calendar, one finds from the formula on page 36 in the book that midnight of March 21 in Gregorian year Y is exactly
Y·365.2425 - (Y mod 4)·97/400 + (floor(Y/4) mod 25)·3/100 - (floor(Y/100) mod 4)/4
days after midnight of March 21 in Gregorian year 0, which ranges from Y·365.2425 - 1.4775 up to Y·365.2425 + 0.72. Thus, even assuming the Gregorian approximation of 365.2425 days to the tropical year, spring equinoxes are distributed over at least three dates in March in the Gregorian calendar.
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76 of 91 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 1, 1999
Format: Paperback
If it were possible to give this book a ZERO rating, I would have done so. Right on page xxi, the authors purport to license their "Functions (code, formulas, and calendar data)" subject to both copyright and unspecified pending PATENT claims, and to restrict the use of such "Functions" to "strictly personal use." This is a book review, not a tutorial on patent law, so I don't even want to comment on the dubious validity of a PATENT claim covering purely mathematical functions. The authors are entitled to copyright protection on their actual source code examples, but asserting PATENT claims over mathematical functions is fundamentally abusive to the reader. As a result, if you have any practical goal for the information in this book and are considering it for other than mere personal amusement value, buy some other book instead. The license is particularly egregious since, on page xix, the authors explicitly acknowledge that all but two of the historical calendars are represented in GNU Emacs from the Free Software Foundation, proponent of the "copyleft" GNU General Public License!
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37 of 44 people found the following review helpful By John on January 3, 2000
Format: Paperback
An excellent book on the history and workings of various calendars. But don’t use the source code! The licensing agreement is a trap. Use the code in GNU Emacs from the Free Software Foundation distributed under the General Public License. It does everything the authors code does (except for two obscure calendars) and it's free and always will be.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By calvinnme HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 19, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an interesting little book that provides a unified algorithmic presentation for more than two dozen calendars of current and historical interest. The book gives precise descriptions of each calendar and makes accurate calendar algorithms available for computer programmers. The complete workings of each calendar are described in verbage and then mathematically. Working computer programs are included in an appendix and on the accompanying CD.

The one thing I didn't care for was the choice of Lisp as the implementation language in appendix B. However, this isn't too big of a problem since equivalent Java programs are on the book's website along with the Lisp implementations. Also, since the mathematical equations of conversion are clearly given, you can choose your own implementation language with few problems. The following is the table of contents:

1. Introduction

Part I. Arithmetical Calendars:
2. The Gregorian calendar
3. The Julian calendar
4. The Coptic and Ethiopic calendars
5. The ISO calendar
6. The Islamic calendar
7. The Hebrew calendar
8. The Ecclesiastical calendars
9. The Old Hindu calendars
10. The Mayan calendar
11. The Balinese Pawukon calendar
12. Generic cyclical calendars

Part II. Astronomical Calendars:
13. Time and astronomy
14. The Persian calendar
15. The Baha'i calendar
16. The French Revolutionary calendar
17. The Chinese calendar
18. The modern Hindu calendars
19. The Tibetan calendar
20. Astronomical lunar calendars coda

Part III. Appendices:
A. Function, parameter, and constant types
B. Lisp implementation
C. Sample data.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Danny Hillis on January 18, 1999
Format: Paperback
In the course of building a 10,000 year clock I needed to know a lot of obscure details about various calendar systems. Calendrical Calculations not only answered all my questions, but it also introduced me to a lot of interesting information that I never would have thought to ask about. It is one of those rare books that is both an authoritative reference source and a fun read.
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