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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brain Dessert
Dewdney is one of the most stimulating writers on applied thinking and computer science that I have had the pleasure to read. Where the standard CS textbooks are most stale, Dewdney is the most provocative. He illuminates the dark corners of abstract thought with practical puzzles and plain language. This book is written in small bite size chapters that grow in...
Published on April 1, 2003 by Stephen Rives

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2.0 out of 5 stars Not really worth it
Out of the 66 chapters, you'll probably find a few that are interesting enough to justify getting the book, but you'll probably find most of the chapters a waste of time. The chapters move at a fast pace that would leave a beginner confused. But they are too short to be of value to someone who already knows something about the subject. So I don't know who could really...
Published 12 months ago by Corey


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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brain Dessert, April 1, 2003
Dewdney is one of the most stimulating writers on applied thinking and computer science that I have had the pleasure to read. Where the standard CS textbooks are most stale, Dewdney is the most provocative. He illuminates the dark corners of abstract thought with practical puzzles and plain language. This book is written in small bite size chapters that grow in complexity around multiple ideas, one being the idea of the state machine (if you don't know what a state machine is, don't fret, Dewdney is here to help). For us programmers, he gives enough information to actually implement the algorithms and explore the universe he envisions. I was able to take two of his pages and use it as a coding exercise that turned out to be quite enjoyable.
The appeal to Dwedney and his book stems from the fact that everything he writes is game-like or puzzle-oriented; while reading him one gets the feeling that an enlightened child is guiding the learned to a new level of thinking. Dewdney takes Computer Science on an enjoyable walk through a park where he ends up teaching the discipline to rethink shortest paths and non-intersecting traversals. What's more amazing about this book is that it is perfectly suited for a coffee table where the uninitiated could accidentally pick it up and join the conversation. That is, a degree in computer science is not a prerequisite to this fascinating read. It is brain dessert.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is an excellent overview of topics in Computer Science., July 21, 1999
This review is from: New Turing Omnibus (New Turning Omnibus : 66 Excursions in Computer Science) (Paperback)
This book provides an excellent overview (or review) of theoretical Computer Science. If there are any of you who think that the high end of computer science is another form of mathematics, then this book is for you. If you think that computer science is just programming then maybe you should take a look at this book as well. After reading this book you will have a good overview of the "science" of computer science. I find too often that most of the undergraduate books in computer science tend to focus on the software engineering side of the field. When you finish this book, you will have been exposed to everything from genetic algorithms to Godel's theorem. The book covers advanced topics such as natural language thoery, but still introduces them on an introductory level. This book is still a little tough for those who have only studied programming. However, any computer scince major (or someone with the equivelent exposure to CS) would find this book to be an excellent reference and review of the things he (or she) would have missed or forgotten in their studies. Incidently, the book presents problems (no solutions, what's new) and refrences at the end of each chapter for further study.
The bottom line is this: This book is the closest thing to a hybrid textbook/encylcopedia of computer science. It covers almost every imaginable topic in computer science and should be on every CS major's bookshelf.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars From 6 to 666 hours to understand, April 10, 2004
By 
Gary Sprandel (Frankfort, Kentucky) - See all my reviews
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What you get out of the book depends upon how much you want to put into in. A reader of this book, could decide to just understand the general ideas, follow the detailed mathematics, or perhaps program on a computer (for example sorting routines, hashing and the like). Each of the excursions is well covered, sometimes witty, but at times I got bogged-down in the symbols. The chapter on "analog computation" coming in the middle of a book was a welcome relief presenting ideas of sorting, shortest path and minimum trees using spaghetti and strings without mathematics (and would be a good chapter to give to non-computer science friends if they ever make the mistake of asking you what sort of problems you think about). The chapter on neural networks, I thought was also clear. There are also some of the classic computer science problems presented such as the Tower of Hanoi, or "A man ponders how to ferry a wolf, a goat, and a cabbage across of river".

The 66 excursions cover a lot of ground, but often return to Turing machines, finite-state machines, and NP-completeness problems. I might have enjoyed more on algorithm analysis, computer languages, and game analysis. Additionally there are new topics since this 1992 publication, such as quantum computing, Bioinformatics, Internet related topics on virus and encrypting, and a raft of social questions including privacy. I hope the "Turing omnibus" refuels for another update.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good overview of the basic ideas, November 5, 2006
The New Turing Omnibus is a gentle pass over many of the abstract concepts of computer science. It focuses on concepts, so if you want to learn to program in a given language, or if you want to master your Windows or Linux OS, look elsewhere. However, it does review all of the theoretical matters, from automata to logic maps, algorithmic analysis and beyond. It is a great read for a budding Computer Scientist, Electrical Engineer or Mathematician. Ideal readers would be younger students in Math or CompSci who want a gentle introduction to the real underlying concepts that govern all of Computer Science. Definatly a must for all CompSci book shelves.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A nice reference book for computer science, September 14, 2000
By 
Todd Ebert (Long Beach California) - See all my reviews
This review is from: New Turing Omnibus (New Turning Omnibus : 66 Excursions in Computer Science) (Paperback)
Dewdney does a nice job in covering a wide range of topics (e.g. NP completeness, codes, formal languages) that computer scientists take for granted as "common knowlege". It serves as a nice encyclopedia for both computer scientists and a layman with some mathematical background who is curious about some of the disciplines of computer science. A great book to have on your shelf.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, readable summary of Computer Science foundations, September 28, 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: New Turing Omnibus (New Turning Omnibus : 66 Excursions in Computer Science) (Paperback)
An enjoyable read for those with some Computer Science or Engineering background. Overviews of 66 different topics in C.S. theory and practice, categorized into 11 general areas. Provides very accessible, intuitive explanations on these foundational topics, with an emphasis on how the theoretical topics relate to practical applications. Nice survey/review of the broad field of Computer Science for the computer professional, as well.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best introduction to CS as of 2006, August 26, 2006
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This review is from: New Turing Omnibus (New Turning Omnibus : 66 Excursions in Computer Science) (Paperback)
I carried this book around with me all the time in the early-mid 90s. It is probably one of the best books you could possibly give a young mathematically-inclined person. There is absolutely no fat on this book --- it pure math and CS ideas with a minimum of encumbering notation and pedantic proofs. Pure delight.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Timeless, August 23, 2001
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This review is from: New Turing Omnibus (New Turning Omnibus : 66 Excursions in Computer Science) (Paperback)
This is possibly one of the best CS reference books ever written. I started with the original (61 Excursions) when I was in the 6th grade. At that point most of it made no sense, but I was able to implement the Algorithm section in BASIC. Every year from then I was able to understand a little more and now that I'm a Junior in CS I have seen most of the topics in one class or another at some point and found the classes easier because I had already seen a general introduction thanks to this book. Don't let this book *not* be on your bookshelf.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic book, a must read for any Computer Science student, October 9, 2009
By 
Jason Gauci (Orlando, FL United States) - See all my reviews
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If you are interested in Computer Science, reading this book is like watching a "Best Of" from your favorite TV show. It has a a 3-5 page headline on 66 different topics (with references, a must-have for academics) written so that anyone can understand the general idea without any background in the area being described.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Not really worth it, February 12, 2014
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Out of the 66 chapters, you'll probably find a few that are interesting enough to justify getting the book, but you'll probably find most of the chapters a waste of time. The chapters move at a fast pace that would leave a beginner confused. But they are too short to be of value to someone who already knows something about the subject. So I don't know who could really benefit from the book.

The chapters are ordered haphazardly. For example, it introduces the concept of minimal complete basis before showing Boolean logic, so if you don't already know about Boolean logic, you will not really see the purpose of a complete basis.

Often the topics are not properly motivated. The worst example is the chapter on Fast Fourier Transform. It gives only the vaguest idea of what a Fourier transform is before jumping into a bunch of equations showing how a computer can calculate it. You will be left wondering why it matters. (It says that the Fourier transform is used for data and image processing, but it never actually explains what it is or how people use it. If I hadn't already known about the FT I would be under the impression that it is just some obscure equations, when it is in fact a very useful way of finding patterns in data).

It's not a bad book--I enjoyed several of the chapters. It's just not good for anything. If you've already studied computer science, you know at least 90% of what's in the book. If you haven't studied CS, you won't be able to keep up with its fast pace and tedious examples.
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