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Introduction to the Theory of Computation [Hardcover]

by Michael Sipser
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)

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Introduction to the Theory of Computation Introduction to the Theory of Computation 3.5 out of 5 stars (16)
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Book Description

February 15, 2005 0534950973 978-0534950972 2
This highly anticipated revision builds upon the strengths of the previous edition. Sipser's candid, crystal-clear style allows students at every level to understand and enjoy this field. His innovative "proof idea" sections explain profound concepts in plain English. The new edition incorporates many improvements students and professors have suggested over the years, and offers updated, classroom-tested problem sets at the end of each chapter.

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Editorial Reviews


"For the market this text addresses, Introduction to the Theory of Computation, Second Edition is an outstanding text without peer." - Christopher Wilson, University of Oregon

"This is a model for readability, with a sensitivity for what students find difficult."

About the Author

Michael Sipser has taught theoretical computer science and mathematics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for the past 32 years. He is a Professor of Applied Mathematics, a member of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), and the current head of the mathematics department. He enjoys teaching and pondering the many mysteries of complexity theory.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 456 pages
  • Publisher: Cengage Learning; 2 edition (February 15, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0534950973
  • ISBN-13: 978-0534950972
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #275,260 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Most appropriate for CS students May 31, 2006
As a teacher of the subject, I have had the chance to evaluate numerous books on the theory of computation. Of all the available texts, I think this one is the most appropriate for CS students. In the past I taught out of Dexter Kozen's book, which is incredibly elegant, but had some resistance from the students. Thinking it over I decided that Kozen's text, although beautiful, may be better suited to students pursuing a degree in pure math. Sipser's book, on the other hand, is more gentle. I find that Sipser demands far less mathematical maturity from his readers, and thus allows the difficulty to be shifted from excessive formalism to the inherent challenges present in the material. In addition, following Sipser's treatment, I was able to cover finite state machines and pushdown automata in far less time, thus allowing me to concentrate on computability and beyond. The book really shines in its treatment of computability theory, eloquently directing attention to some of the most beautiful aspects.

Another benefit of Sipser's book is the exercises, of which there are many more in this edition. Someone studying on their own should find the initial group of exercises in each section quite approachable. Even the more challenging problems are not incredibly hard, and typically draw their difficulty from the deeper themes of the chapter instead of obscure details.

If you are looking for an enjoyable, well-paced book with an introduction to computability and complexity that is truly inspiring, this is the one for you. A mathematician looking for a bit more rigor may do better with Kozen.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Appeals to novice and expert February 27, 2006
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I have a long experience with software development, but not much background in computation theory, just fascinating tidbits I have picked up here and there. So, this book for the first time deepens and organizes for me this hightly abstract and difficult topic.

Being a novice, I at first was afraid that the text of the book would be beyond my understanding. It was not. For sure, the proofs are difficult and may appeal to the person with a degree in computer science. But the copious diagrams, figures and tables are wonderful supplements to the understandable text. For the first time I really could grasp the subtleties of the finit automata, non-determinism, regular expressions, pushdown automata and other topics.

Certainly I can recommend this book to the beginner at computation theory, and even to the more advanced student who may want to review the topic.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very readable, diverse, and a little sparse November 24, 2006
This is a wonderful little gem of a book that presents the theory of computation in a fascinating way. It is targeted at advanced undergraduates in computer science, but assumes remarkably little prior knowledge, making it accessible to nearly anyone. The book covers a lot of ground, including the standard fare of automata, computability, and complexity results, plus some bonus material such as probablistic and parallel complexity, information theory, decidable logical theories, and other topics that are normally left out of introductory books. On top of this, the book is remarkably thin!

The best attribute of Sipser's book, though, is the engaging style. This is an easy book to read. You will not feel like you're running into a brick wall, as is sometimes the case with books on abstract topics. It's not so much that the book is slow or gentle (it's really not) as that it is interesting, engaging, and has a knack for stopping short of getting too caught up in details. A number of small things -- the occasional amusing exercise, the "proof idea" sections, or helpful pictures -- add up to an enjoyable reading experience.

Two cautions are appropriate to students considering this book. First, there are variations between authors in the definitions of various automata (especially PDAs). The differences are trivial, and more a matter of taste than of any real importance; but it could come up if you use Sipser as a supplement to a course that follows a different textbook. Second, the coverage of many topics in Sipser's book is brief and concise, sometimes more than you might like. Some important concepts (for example, pairwise distinguishability of strings) are only mentioned in exercises, not in the main chapter, so at least skim all the exercises even if you don't do them. The sketchy coverage is especially pronounced in advanced topics, so (as always) expect to do some filling in of concepts if you go on into further study of this area.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars well-organized, progressive, and understandable January 6, 2007
As an intro to the theoretical background to computer science goes, this book is about as readable and approachable as you can get.

It gives a very thorough treatment of the whole theoretical basis, from regular languages and pumping lemmas out through Turing machines and related issues, and on to some interesting language classes (like NP and PSpace-complete).

If there's a single sticking point with the book, it's that it insists on a very strict formalism (ie: everything is proof-based) -- something necessary for the topic, but it sometimes renders the material a bit hard to digest.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book on the subject December 26, 2006
If you are interested in or for other reasons must read a book on this subject, this is the book. I took a class last semester which used Hopcroft as the text and I found myself often turning to this book for better understanding. This book is more intuitive and thus a bit less formal than Hopcroft but when trying to learn, understanding is better than mathematical formalism. If you are new to the subject, Sipser is the book to begin with.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Very nice book
Don't be put off by the complex symbols and biblical diagrams. They mean something, and this book explains everything very clearly. Read more
Published 18 days ago by Yang Liu
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Theory Book
I had this book for my Theory of Computation class. It came in good condition. The author glosses over the little details sometimes in his book, specifically with the proofs. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Phillip
4.0 out of 5 stars May Lead me to advanced level
I am a starter on the theory of computation.
I think this book may lead me to advanced level...
thank you!
Published 4 months ago by YONG HOO SHEEN
4.0 out of 5 stars Understandable textbook on a difficult subject
I needed this textbook for a class where we covered the first 5 chapters and it was very helpful. The author can make difficult material easy to understand. Read more
Published 9 months ago by zscruz
4.0 out of 5 stars Not Easy
Computational Theory is not an easy subject, and anyone who says it is is lying to you. That said, this text does a fairly good job of stepping you through from fairly basic logic... Read more
Published 12 months ago by The Yeknod
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Condition
The book is in great condition. Packaged nicely and...uniquely as always. You won't be disappointed. This book is very helpful because the class I'm taking now is super crazy!!! Read more
Published 18 months ago by Aaron
2.0 out of 5 stars In exact and hand wavy.
Using this book for an intro to computation course. I can't stand the text. The first chapters on DFA's and NFA's through to PDA's are easy enough to understand; it's when you... Read more
Published on December 4, 2011 by Lee M. Jacobs
1.0 out of 5 stars Not the best book
This book is very hard to read because of the way it is formatted, and it spends a lot of time on proofs, and doesn't provide to many examples. Read more
Published on October 26, 2011 by MelRad
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book for beginners
If you have very little experience with the subject matter, this book will be a wonderful starter. It is engaging, easy to read, and starts right off with the basics (what are... Read more
Published on October 4, 2011 by Jeremy
4.0 out of 5 stars Recommended
In this book, Sipser does a good job at introducing the subject, starting as simple as finite automata and regular languages, working his way through Turing machines,... Read more
Published on April 11, 2011 by Haitham Gad
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Topic From this Discussion
International Student Edition
The International Edition does not include some deeper results or theorems in the standard edition. I think it should be mentioned that there exists the international edition of this book at the publisher's page of this book.
May 9, 2007 by Japanese Reviewer |  See all 9 posts
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