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Introduction to the Theory of Computation 1st Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 53 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0534947286
ISBN-10: 053494728X
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"Intended as an upper-level undergraduate or introductory graduate text in computer science theory," this book lucidly covers the key concepts and theorems of the theory of computation. The presentation is remarkably clear; for example, the "proof idea," which offers the reader an intuitive feel for how the proof was constructed, accompanies many of the theorems and a proof. Introduction to the Theory of Computation covers the usual topics for this type of text plus it features a solid section on complexity theory--including an entire chapter on space complexity. The final chapter introduces more advanced topics, such as the discussion of complexity classes associated with probabilistic algorithms.

About the Author

Michael Sipser has taught theoretical computer science and mathematics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for the past 32 years. He is a Professor of Applied Mathematics, a member of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), and the current head of the mathematics department. He enjoys teaching and pondering the many mysteries of complexity theory.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: PWS Pub. Co.; 1 edition (December 13, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 053494728X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0534947286
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #247,247 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A. Scudiero on July 18, 2001
Format: Hardcover
When I picked up this book I thought, "You have to be kidding me." This book is very thin, and then a fair chunk of it is mathematics review for some of the formal arguments the book is going to be making later on. One wouldn't think there was much in this book.
One would be wrong. This book goes into rather impressive depth on some rather abstract concepts of computer science without dabbling for too long in the details. It does the best job I've ever seen of explaining the Turing machine and how it relates to computability and decidablity.
The exercises are both easy and insanely difficult - so you can basically chose your level and then go through the book, some of the problems are very hard, some are trivially easy, a great mix makes for great homework assignments.
The "Proof Idea:" sections before every proof give you the underlying concepts in plain english that are about to be stated formally so you have a clue what's happening when the formal definitions start flying. These are priceless and should be included in every other book that uses formal proof techniques.
The book reads fairly well on its own, or makes for a great class text book, which I used it for. As my professor said, "This is a good book because it doesn't have any extra words." but you don't seem to mind as you read it. Probably the best work on the science of computation in the world, certainly the best I've ever seen.
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Format: Hardcover
I bought this book in a desperate attempt to pass a Theory of Computation course in which I was enrolled. I was stuck in the sad situation of having a non-English speaking, difficult to understand professor. In addition, the required text for the course was awful. Thanks to Sipser's book, I not only avoided dropping the course, but managed to get an A. (I'm not exagerating). Sipser's book is fantastic compared to others on the subject. It is written in easy to understand, plain, no-nonsense language. (Even the section on pumping lemma is understandable) I became aware of Sipser's book as a result of reading a customer's negative review of another (more expensive) book (Intro to Languages & theory of Computation by J. Martin) on the same subject. The reviewer suggested buying this book by Sipser instead, and that advice was excellent. (Many thanks to that reader, whoever you are!) If you are considering heading for the drop course line at the registrar's office, try this book before you give up and quit!
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Format: Hardcover
Summary of this review: You'll find yourself getting interested in, and understanding, concepts, very easily, but if you're an advanced reader you'll often find (at the end of the chapters) that the more advanced topics/problems have been glossed over.
If this is your assigned course textbook, you're lucky. If this is NOT your assigned textbook, USE it as your guide. It makes topics simpler and more intuitive. The way Sipser ropes down exotic theorems into straightforward, understandable logic is almost magical. The book scores in most areas: smoothness of flow, ease of understanding, order of presentation, motivational cues, and thoroughness in the areas covered.
The problem with the book is in the number of topics covered, and in the number of examples. There are not sufficient examples in some cases, and not sufficient material in some cases. This is a small textbook. At the end of each chapter, Sipser often glosses over the more advanced issues. If doing a thorough study, one will frequently need a more complete reference.
This will, of course, not be a problem if your course does not go beyond what is covered here: Finite Automata, Turing Machines, the relationship between the classes of languages, reducibility, and complexity theory.
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Format: Hardcover
Reading this book changed my entire set of beliefs regarding the importance and usefulness of computational theory (and math) in computer science. I have been programming since grade 7, yet only after reading this book do I feel like I really have a grasp of it on a fundamental level. Its like there was this whole other world under my nose that I caught passing glimpses of yet was never able to put together. Like in DOS: c:>dir *, why use a star character? Why is XML the way it is? The list goes on and on. This book tied *alot* of 'loose ends' for me.
I always felt that being a cs-tist was about programming, object oriented design/analysis, design patterns, UML, etc.. And there is no doubt that mastery of these technologies are required of any good cs-tist. However, if you want to understand where all these technologies you use come from, how they connect, and to get a glimpse of where its all going, you must combine your current programming and trend following expertise with knowledge of the underlying theories of computation.
This book should be required reading for all first year CS students so that they may get the 'big picture' right from the start and be able to see CS as a whole rather than a bunch of 'kinda related' courses. I see this book inspiring a whole generation of cs-tists - many of whom may have gone into other professions after reading books like 'Introduction to Automata Theory, Languages, and Computation' by Ullman, Hopcroft (a great, rigorous treatment of cs, but *not* a good book to learn from or be inspired by).
Again, great book!
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