- Hardcover: 396 pages
- Publisher: PWS Pub. Co.; 1 edition (December 13, 1996)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780534947286
- ISBN-13: 978-0534947286
- ASIN: 053494728X
- Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 1 x 9.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 46 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #229,879 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Introduction to the Theory of Computation 1st Edition
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"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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I've spent the entire semester frustrated with this book. To give you an idea of my background, I'm a computer science student with a focus in math. I have been studying topology concurrently with the class that uses this book (using Munkres).
The most frustrating thing about this book is the lack a rigor. No, this book isn't logically unsound, but it often (and I stress often) fails to provide precise details. Moreover, it's also frustrating that Sipser splits proofs into "proof idea" and "proof". This makes the books unreadable if one simply wants to read through a proof and not some hodge-podge of intuitive reasoning. I get the reasoning, I just want the details!
Another key point is that the book stands somewhat at odds with the rest of the world for a particular definition (countability). Where Sipser says a set is "countable" he means to say "countably infinite". The distinction between the two is lost, and even further obscured by using "same size" instead of "same cardinality," "correspondence" instead of "bijection" (I get the use of onto and one-to-one, because they are fairly common, but I feel lack technical specificity). And I really wouldn't mention the countable issue except that it lies at the crux of undecidability of the acceptance problem for Turing Machines.
Lastly, I just feel this book is often more wordy and convoluted than it needs to be. The subject matter isn't hard. Reading through this book is a challenge, though.
Sipser, just because you're at MIT does not make you a god.
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.
This is a great supplement, though it would be confusing on its own.
The problems are great and you can find answers to a good chunk of them to see if you're doing it right.
As a refutal to one reviewer: The fact that this book does not have a solution manual is what makes it SO great! Guess what? In real life, in mathematics there is NO solutions manual! You have to find it by yourself. Most problems in mathematics go without solution for ages, until one person has the epiphany and solves it. Most mathematicians, in as hard as they work and as smart as they are, never discover new proofs or new theories. It's irresponsible to lambast this volume just because "it does not have a solution manual."