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The New Turing Omnibus: Sixty-Six Excursions in Computer Science Paperback – July 15, 1993


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The New Turing Omnibus: Sixty-Six Excursions in Computer Science + How to Think Like a Mathematician: A Companion to Undergraduate Mathematics
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Holt Paperbacks; Enlarged, Enlarged and Updated Editon edition (July 15, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805071660
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805071665
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #323,948 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Wonderfully concise discussions . . . full of wit . . . It is nearly the perfect book for the noncomputer scientists who want to learn something about the field."—Nature

"Recommended as a general topics source for anyone interested in computer science. Dewdney's use of unusual and practical examples and illustrations to explain the material makes his very readable prose even better."—Choice

"A useful book of worthwhile diversions."—Computer Books Review

About the Author

A. K. Dewdney teaches computer science at the University of Western Ontario.

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Customer Reviews

I really got a kick out of this book.
Jason Rawlins
Dewdney is one of the most stimulating writers on applied thinking and computer science that I have had the pleasure to read.
Stephen Rives
Love this book - even though it is fairly old (in Computer Science years) it is still relevant.
Matt Withum

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Rives on April 1, 2003
Format: Paperback
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 By Alex Mikhail on July 21, 1999
Format: 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 By Gary Sprandel on April 10, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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 By Amazon Customer on November 5, 2006
Format: Paperback
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 By Todd Ebert on September 14, 2000
Format: 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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