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The Science of Programming (Monographs in Computer Science)

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ISBN-13: 978-0387964805
ISBN-10: 0387964800
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Product Details

  • Series: Monographs in Computer Science
  • Paperback: 388 pages
  • Publisher: Springer (April 21, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0387964800
  • ISBN-13: 978-0387964805
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #567,076 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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33 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Charles Ashbacher HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 2, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book makes my top-ten list of best computing books of the decade of the eighties. It certainly changed my outlook on how to write programs. The incorporation of logic into the code to mathematically prove that it works correctly was an ideal in the eighties and to some extent it remains an ideal. Nevertheless, that is not a reflection of the value of program correctness, but a consequence of the slow changes that sometimes take place in computing. Programmers may change their languages easily, but often not their styles.
At the time this book came out, I was in the process of designing and adding a course in computation theory with an emphasis on program correctness at Mount Mercy College. Before I encountered this book, I was having a difficult time pressing my case. However, after this book came out and I could use some of the comments regarding the significance of its' content, the course was easily approved. I also used the book in the class and the student comments were overwhelmingly positive. Ten years later, the book is still used in the class, something that is rare in computing.
The quality of the writing and explanations of the examples in the book are outstanding. Most of the students had no experience in formal logic, and yet they had little difficulty understanding and applying the concepts. The examples of proving the code correct were well chosen and I rarely heard any of the traditional complaints from math students regarding their frustrations over having to work through proofs.
The quality of programs would be dramatically increased if the principles of program correctness in this book were widely adopted. I continue to push for it every chance I get, and this review is one part of that push.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By booklover on December 22, 1999
Format: Paperback
The book provides an excellent introduction to logic and then shows how by using the language of logic and mathematics to specify pre-conditions and post-conditions one can develop provably correct programs from these pre-conditions and post-conditions.
I have used the methods in this book to develop advanced algorithms in Computer Graphics which could not have been developed in any other way.
The book is both a tutorial and reference. It is clearly written and organized.
When I first read this book, it was as though a bolt of lightning had struck me. Applying its methods, I became a much better programmer. I went from someone who struggled to get the code right to someone who always got the code right. For the first time I understood what programming was all about. I read the book on vacation while my wife and I were staying at my father's home in Sag Harbor New York and it was one of the most incredible intellectual adventures of my life. I'll never forget the smell of the sea and the sand and the logic going off like lightning flashes inside my brain.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 9, 1999
Format: Hardcover
The book deals with the way of development of programs using mathematical principles. This line of observation ( mentioned in the preface) " One can not learn to write large programs effectively until one has learned to write small ones effectively" captures the motivation of the book. There are three parts; part I introduces predicate logic; it includes natural deduction system; Part II builds the mathematical treatment of the programming constructs like assignment, alternative, iterative command and procedure call. Part III shows how programs are developed and proved correct using the mathematical principles discussed earlier. Given the nature of the area, the book is written with a lot of attention to instructional impact. The best recommendation for the book is by Dijkstra: The topic deserves no less author... To get the message across requires a scientist that combines his scientific involvement in the subject with the precious gifts of a devoted teacher".
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Partho Bhowmick on December 10, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Simply put, a book that re-introduces the idea of program correctness over all else. An excellent source on program design & analysis, checking for correctness using a logic-based approach. A book that builds from the fundamentals. Not for those who are looking for quick fixes.
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Format: Paperback
I've been having problems coming up with correct programs for a very long time.

I'm one of those programmers who just somehow hope the corner case would work out by themselves. Sometimes I don't even know why it works. If it thankfully passed a few test cases, I would be convinced it's correct.

That's a really bad habit that I haven't realized until recently.

This book is published in 1989, and it's been 25 years. I still find the techniques quite advanced, the way it perceives programs profound.

Some advice on how to read this book:
1. Don't think it as some programming language book you can skim quickly, you really need to grasp the idea behind those seemingly natural theorems & proofs.
2. Prof. David Gries himself stressed a few times in the book that even attempting to prove some of the theorems would change the way you think. So make sure you solve the problems in the exercises, you'll be surprised the concept is not as easy as it seems.
3. Don't attempt to read this book on a bus or in my case the subway... I read a few chapters but later found that I did not understand those at all. So find some quite place where you can put some real thought into it.

Enjoy the journey!
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