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Numerical Recipes 3rd Edition: The Art of Scientific Computing [Hardcover]

William H. Press , Saul A. Teukolsky , William T. Vetterling , Brian P. Flannery
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)

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Book Description

September 10, 2007 0521880688 978-0521880688 3
Co-authored by four leading scientists from academia and industry, Numerical Recipes Third Edition starts with basic mathematics and computer science and proceeds to complete, working routines. Widely recognized as the most comprehensive, accessible and practical basis for scientific computing, this new edition incorporates more than 400 Numerical Recipes routines, many of them new or upgraded. The executable C++ code, now printed in color for easy reading, adopts an object-oriented style particularly suited to scientific applications. The whole book is presented in the informal, easy-to-read style that made earlier editions so popular. Please visit or for more details. More information concerning licenses is available at: New key features:
  • 2 new chapters, 25 new sections, 25% longer than Second Edition
  • Thorough upgrades throughout the text
  • Over 100 completely new routines and upgrades of many more.
  • New Classification and Inference chapter, including Gaussian mixture models, HMMs, hierarchical clustering, Support Vector Machines
  • New Computational Geometry chapter covers KD trees, quad- and octrees, Delaunay triangulation, and algorithms for lines, polygons, triangles, and spheres
  • New sections include interior point methods for linear programming, Monte Carlo Markov Chains, spectral and pseudospectral methods for PDEs, and many new statistical distributions
  • An expanded treatment of ODEs with completely new routines
Plus comprehensive coverage of
  • linear algebra, interpolation, special functions, random numbers, nonlinear sets of equations, optimization, eigensystems, Fourier methods and wavelets, statistical tests, ODEs and PDEs, integral equations, and inverse theory

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Editorial Reviews


"This monumental and classic work is beautifully produced and of literary as well as mathematical quality. It is an essential component of any serious scientific or engineering library."
Computing Reviews

"... an instant 'classic,' a book that should be purchased and read by anyone who uses numerical methods ..."
American Journal of Physics

"... replete with the standard spectrum of mathematically pretreated and coded/numerical routines for linear equations, matrices and arrays, curves, splines, polynomials, functions, roots, series, integrals, eigenvectors, FFT and other transforms, distributions, statistics, and on to ODE's and PDE's ... delightful."
Physics in Canada

"... if you were to have only a single book on numerical methods, this is the one I would recommend."
EEE Computational Science & Engineering

"This encyclopedic book should be read (or at least owned) not only by those who must roll their own numerical methods, but by all who must use prepackaged programs."
New Scientist

"These books are a must for anyone doing scientific computing."
Journal of the American Chemical Society

"The authors are to be congratulated for providing the scientific community with a valuable resource."
The Scientist

"I think this is an incredibly valuable book for both learning and reference and I recommend it for any scientists or student in a numerate discipline who need to understand and/or program numerical algorithms."
International Association for Pattern Recognition

"The attractive style of the text and the availability of the codes ensured the popularity of the previous editions and also recommended this recent volume to different categories of readers, more or less experienced in numerical computation."
Octavian Pastravanu, Zentralblatt MATH

Book Description

The third edition of Numerical Recipes has wider coverage than ever before. New chapters cover classification and inference and computational geometry; new sections include MCMC, interior point methods, and an updated, expanded treatment of ODEs, all with completely new routines in C++. For more information, or to buy the book, visit For support, or to subscribe to an online version, please visit

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 1256 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 3 edition (September 10, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521880688
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521880688
  • Product Dimensions: 10.3 x 7.5 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #99,316 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
111 of 117 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A licensing disaster December 1, 2009
As other reviewers have mentioned, this is basically an annotated code repository of solutions to specific algorithmic problems, and the algorithms are good. However, if you want to *use* these solutions in your products, forget it. You'll need to pay (thousands of dollars per year, potentially) for the privilege of an institutional license, and even then you can't incorporate any of the algorithms into a commercial software product. The code is therefore useless. Worse than useless, actually, because if a company owns the book and then uses an algorithm contained in it - even if derived from a different source - it runs the risk of getting sued for licensing violations because they've seen the book. No thanks.


If the authors went with some kind of traditional open-source license instead, that would be terrific. Right now, it looks like financial greed has gotten in the way of the dissemination of good ideas.
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63 of 65 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Valuable book, but not worth an upgrade June 28, 2008
Bottom line up front: Every computational scientist should own a copy of Numerical Recipes but, if you already own a previous version, then don't bother upgrading.

I already owned a copy of "Numerical Recipes in C, 2nd Edition" (from 1992), so I was absolutely thrilled when I saw that the book had been updated in over 15 years. This is why I was so underwhelmed with the 3rd edition. As a previous reviewer noted, the vast majority of the book is largely unchanged.

As in previous editions, the authors do a great job of providing codes that cover the spectrum of topics encountered by researchers. As in previous editions, the authors still take the "give a man a fish" instead of the "teach a man to fish" method. This might seem like a negative but, in my opinion, this is why every scientist should own a copy of Numerical Recipes. Often, topics pop up that need immediate solving and one can often find a code for the topic in Numerical Recipes. As in previous editions, Numerical Recipes is really just an annotated code repository, with very stringent/restrictive licensing rules by the way!

However, as the authors note in the introduction, they made a conscious decision to fill pages with verbatim codes, not building insight into various topics. In my experience, the codes given in Numerical Recipes get the job done, but these tend to be simple and less efficient than other well-known algorithms.

As in previous editions, Numerical Recipes is a terrible pedagogical text. If you're interesting in understanding a particular topic, then get a special-purpose book.
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120 of 129 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Copyright Idiocy! March 26, 2010
People, stop buying and using this book! The copyright is prohibitive. It is not that they are greedy and want to make money from it. They won't sell you the rights to use any of these algorithms in commercial products, period. They are just stupid.

And don't give your code to a friend or coworker. You just violated the copyright.

Several coworkers have given me simulations with NR code buried in it. I can't use them. It is ILLEGAL!

Stop! Stop! Stop!

Use the GNU Scientific Library. It is free. And legal! And there is a free book on it. Use anything but NR.
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92 of 104 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential book on scientific computing September 28, 2007
Fifteen years after its previous edition, this peerless book on scientific computing has been upgraded with some very welcome changes. Not only have some advances in scientific computing been incorporated, the explanations are even clearer and more detailed than before. More importantly, the code has been reworked so that it is better than it was in the previous edition. I don't agree with the other reviewer that "it is getting worse". However, it still does seem like C++ code that was written by a Fortran programmer who just doesn't want to let go of the past, although I'd have to say that the code has broken away from the Fortran-like structure of previous editions to some degree. If you do scientific computing at all, this new edition is a must have. Below I detail what is different in this new third edition versus the previous 1992 edition. There are a very few sections that were deleted. I don't mention them. Instead I list any sections or chapters that have been added.

1. Preliminaries
Completely reorganized to reflect the book.

2.Solution of Linear Algebraic Equations

3. Interpolation and Extrapolation
3.7 Interpolation on a Scattered Data in Multidimensions
3.8 Laplace Interpolation

4. Integration of Functions
4.5 Quadrature by Variable Transformation
4.8 Adaptive Quadrature

5. Evaluation of Functions

6. Special Functions
6.10 Generalized Fermi-Dirac Integrals
6.11 Inverse of the Function xlog(x)
6.14 Statistical Functions

7. Random Numbers
7.2 Completely Hashing a Large Array
7.3 Deviates from Other Distributions
7.4 Multivariate Normal Deviates
7.5 Linear Feedback Shift Registers
Read more ›
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87 of 99 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Contents improved, but codes not September 27, 2007
By Jacky
I'm a fan of this book since I've been using this book for a very long time. I pre-ordered the new version and got it a week ago. I think the contents are improved after I had a look at it. I'm pretty happy about that. However, the quality of the source codes, well, I have to say it is getting worse. As you may notice, authors of N.R. put a stringent license on usage of their codes, which is fine since these codes are their intellectual properties. But since they are selling their codes, they are supposed to hire some professional programmers to design a beatiful architecture, a nice data structure, and an easy-to-use interface, and implement all the algorithms with efficiency. As I can tell, C++ is abused in the 3rd version in a very bad way. I've been developing scientific computing software using C/C++ over 10 years, and I have to say the authors of the codes organized their work in a weird way. In the previous version of their codes in C++, global variables are still defined and used at so many places. Any professional programmer knows how bad such a programming style is. In this version, instead of wrapping their routines in classes, they simply use "struct" to hold global variables, does this delight you? This is just an example which upsets me. The only good thing is that they finally learned to use template...
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very useful
Published 14 days ago by c1mth0g
5.0 out of 5 stars should be on every programmers shelf.
One of a few programming books I think all software engineers should have on their shelf. I find the algorithms in C a bit more readable than those from the C++ addition. Read more
Published 7 months ago by T. Bischel
2.0 out of 5 stars Good content, but software license significantly reduces the value of...
The license on the code in this book makes it almost completely worthless. The content of the book itself is excellent. Read more
Published 10 months ago by jlb
5.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive description of numerical approaches
This book met all my expectations. It includes consideration of great number of approaches in numerical methods, also quite operational C++ codes are given in it.
Published 12 months ago by Andrey
5.0 out of 5 stars Same great text
It's essentially the same as previous versions, but if you need C (I had FORTRAN), this is a good book. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Chris F
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy it, and buy another copy for your kids
The people whining about code surprise me. My copy is a yellowed, old, dogeared beast in the first C version about which everyone way back in the day said, "You must own this for... Read more
Published 14 months ago by C. A. Burlingame
3.0 out of 5 stars The Codes...
I own NR in C, NR in C++ 2nd ed, and also this 3rd edition. The C++ coding style in the 3rd edition is way better than that in NR C++ 2nd edition. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Steve Sun
5.0 out of 5 stars A must have for all programmers of all ages
This book is the greatest compilation of computational knowledge that any seasoned or unseasoned computer scientist, and student, could ever have. Read more
Published 20 months ago by J. D. Fraine
1.0 out of 5 stars Changes since 2nd edition
The move from C to C++, with its own invented data-types and classes, only obscures without any noticeable benefits. Huge mistake. Look for a copy of the 2nd Edition.
Published 23 months ago by squeen
1.0 out of 5 stars License is terrible
The book is ok but the license is terrible. I never seen a book that does not allow you to use the code. I would have known this before, I would had not purchased the book. Read more
Published on October 12, 2011 by IBLUES
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