- Paperback: 344 pages
- Publisher: The MIT Press (March 31, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0262640686
- ISBN-13: 978-0262640688
- Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.7 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (84 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #47,308 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Elements of Computing Systems: Building a Modern Computer from First Principles
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A refreshingly new way of looking at computer systems as a whole by considering all aspects of a complete system in an integrated manner.(Jonathan Bowen Times Higher Education Supplement)
About the Author
Noam Nisan is Professor at the Institute of Computer Science and Engineering, Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Shimon Schocken is the IDB Professor of Information Technologies and Dean of the Efi Arazi School of Computer Science, Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya.
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Top Customer Reviews
You can just read the book, but the best idea is to follow the authors' advice and do the projects where you implement every necessary piece of the computer system yourself. The projects are all very well organized. All the software necessary to emulate any part of the computer is available for free download from the authors' web-site. It all works beautifully. If you want to skip any of the projects, you can, because the software is organized in such a way that it will use built-in modules instead of the ones you built if necessary.
The authors seem to have extensively tested the whole approach through the courses they have taught using this material. I also noticed that Harvard's Computer Science 101 course is being taught based on this book. I have been using the book for self-study with absolutely no problems--in fact I have never had such a great experience with a self-study course. All you need is a Windows or Linux (edit: Mac OS X works fine too) computer and access to the internet, and you can give yourself a wonderful education in computer science.
In terms of prerequisites, you only really need to have some experience with programming (e.g. with C, or ideally with Java or Python). I think that the book should work well for students or hobbyists who don't have any more experience than that, but it is also great for much more experienced students, as a kind of integrative summary of the field. I also think the book is perfect for graduate students or researchers from other fields who want to learn how digital hardware and software systems are actually engineered.
Finally, I just want to compliment the authors on the extraordinary care that they have taken with the whole project. The computer design that you build up is wonderfully elegant--at every stage the design is just as simple as it can be while being sufficient. Every piece of emulation software works as advertised. Even the extra powerpoint or .pdf tutorials are nicely done. This is really quality work, and using it is just a real pleasure. Finally, the source code for all the software provided by the authors is available, so if you wanted to extend the provided emulators, you could do that.
In summary, I give this book my unqualified highest recommendation.
The book is very suitable for self-study or classroom use: it has an excellent website, all the required HDL simulator, assembler, CPU and VM emulator and compiler are freely available and easy to run on any platform (they are all coded in Java).
Of course there are simplifications such as the lack of interrupts and multhithreading but this book prepares the students very well for 3rd and 4th year courses. Every chapter has very well and clearly defined goals and projects that are %100 self-contained. That means even if you skip a chapter you can work out the next project without any loss in implementation.
If you or your students want to have a grasp what it means to build a computer starting from logic gates, hardware definition languages, up to the ALU, RAM, CPU, assembler, virtual machine and compilation of an object oriented high level language, then this book is the best choice. It is one of the most hands-on book I've ever seen in this subject matter and at that intermediate level.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
If you give me enough transistors, I'm completely sure I could build a computer out of them.