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This is not the book for those who were maddened by Berlinski's A Tour of the Calculus; his style remains quirky, digressive, self-referential, and dense:
And then, by some inscrutable incandescent insight, Leibniz came to see that what is crucial in what he had written is the alternation between God and Nothingness. And for this, the numbers 0 and 1 suffice.
Twinkies and Diet Coke in hand, computer programmers can now be observed pausing thoughtfully at their consoles.
Berlinski's argument seems to be that algorithms--step-by-step procedures for getting answers--superceded logic, and will be superceded in turn by more biological, empirical, fuzzy methods. The structure of the book reflects this argument--sketches of people like Leibniz, Hilbert, Gödel, and Turing are interwoven with proofs and with characters of Berlinski's own invention. Berlinski's voice, closer to Hofstadter than to Knuth, remains unique. --Mary Ellen Curtin --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
I have very mixed feelings about this book.
In addition to the prose style itself, the book is littered with fictional asides that are meant to illustrate subtle points but end up being a distraction.
The ONLY reason this book is getting two stars from me is because it does look like there is some real potential in this book.
Berlinski's title suggests that this book will be mainly a piece of intellectual history, charting the development of computer programs from the advances in mathematics made in... Read morePublished 16 months ago by Andrew Begrady
Most boring, confusing and appalling book with all those dramatic and romantic story sections. May be if it was an audio book, I would have given some half star extra. Read morePublished on May 4, 2010 by N. Ramanathan
David Berlinski, like God, is under-appreciated. He is too subtle, too wonderful, and mostly beyond us.Published on April 18, 2010 by Marianne Bacon
I think I have had a normal relationship with this book. The first time I had a copy in my hands, I quit reading it. That was around 2000.
Tonight, it is brillant. Read more
I admire an author's clever use of words as much as anyone, but there is undoubtedly a point where the clever use of words becomes "mannerism:" the author calls attention to... Read morePublished on November 23, 2009 by Geoff Puterbaugh
(I wrote this review of Berlinski's The Advent of the Algorithm, A Tour of the Calculus, and Newton's Gift in 2001 but could find no one to publish it; so I am posting it here. Read morePublished on November 7, 2009 by Raymond C. Togtman
Berlinski is trying to make us feel the conceptual twist that percipitated the algoritm out of the failed project to produce a secure foundation for mathematics. Read morePublished on July 21, 2009 by S. G. Harris
"The Advent of the Algorithm" tries much too hard to be "Gödel, Escher, Bach", without any understanding whatsoever of the whimsical appeal of the latter, and wastes all its... Read morePublished on May 30, 2008 by C. Russell
Not for the faint-hearted, this is my most favorite math read of all times. It should be, since it's been a difficult companion for more than five years. Read morePublished on February 9, 2008 by Sunny Wallace