Top critical review
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Largely waste of time, except very few chapters, and only one is truly great
on May 30, 2010
This book is a collection of many articles by different authors, which is supposed to illuminate what they behold as beautiful engineering. Now it is said that beauty is in the eye of beholder, and some readers may be amazed by elegance and aha moments through the book. However to me it looks like most articles describe how authors used the plain common sense to architect this or that, and that beautiful aha moment to behold is nowhere to be seen. I was tempted to put the book down most of the time, but kept on reading only in hopes that next chapter by different author about different topic would make it finally worth it.
And one chapter did it! Titled "Accelerated Population Count" by Henry S. Warren, Jr (which is about calculating bit counts in arrays) is truly breathtaking and inspiring. Now, is it worth buying this book just for one small but very good article? Maybe, since A) it's that good, and B) I can't find it mentioned anywhere else, including the truly magnificent "Hacker's Delight" by same Henry S. Warren Jr. (the "Hacker's Delight" describes cool tricks in the bit counting area, but doesn't mention CSA).
If you are interested in the premise of this book, here is my recommendation:
1. Buy the "Programming Pearls", and get to know the real beautiful code 101 by heart
2. Buy the "Hacker's Delight", and keep is as a reference on the bit twiddling algorithms
3. Stop at the library or bookstore for 15 minutes, and read the "Accelerated Population Count" from the "Beautiful Code"