The Little Schemer - 4th Edition fourth edition
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- Publisher : The MIT Press; fourth edition (December 21, 1995)
- Language: : English
- Paperback : 216 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0262560992
- ISBN-13 : 978-0262560993
- Reading age : 18 years and up
- Grade level : 12 and up
- Item Weight : 12 ounces
- Dimensions : 9.04 x 6.94 x 0.51 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #67,858 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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As a reader you will quickly grasp the unique format of this book. It is light-hearted enough to remain unintimidating, but moves quickly enough to get across an impressive array of knowledge.
As others have mentioned, recursive thinking is more demonstrated than directly taught, which I found very effective.
The final chapters are mind bending and wonderful. It addresses monumental historical theories from Gödel, Turing, and Church while keeping its consistent, simple tone. Only after you've understood an idea fully is its historical significance revealed, and only tangentially to the subject matter at that!
I commend the authors for their innovative teaching strategies. I was lucky to attend a Racket course overseen by Felleisen after reading this which was a wonderful experience.
The key to enjoying this book is to not get hung up on the non-code questions. The book is written as a list of questions and answers, and it's frustrating to try to answer the non-code questions because they are often unguessable:
Q: Is that bad?
A: You must beware of shadows
Quickly read through the non-code questions and answers. But try to answer the code questions - that's the stuff that's fun and interesting.
Q: Write fun? with set? and firsts
A: (define fun? (lambda (rel) (set? (firsts rel))))
You'll find pencil and paper to be too slow for this stuff; a text editor is more convenient. But you need not bother running the code through a compiler - the answers are given on the same page.
The book is structured as a series of questions and answers. Each page has several questions on the left hand side, with answers on the right hand side. The overall interpretation of the book is that you can read this without a computer, using pencil and paper to work through the many questions in the book.
As the reader progresses they will continue to develop and reimplement many useful tools in Scheme that become more and more practical as the text goes on. What is great about this method is the pacing and the steady revealing of topics and good practices presented by the author. Because they gradually accustom the reader to topics like recursion, list operations, and lambda, by the time they show how define is unneccessary in Scheme due to the Y Combinator this rather challenging concept seems somewhat intuitive.
Overall I think this is one of the greatest computer science books I have ever read. Sure it may not formally define things or be the absolute easiest text to read on the Scheme language itself, but this book should not be used as a reference product - it should be used as a tool bye which the reader strengthens their fundamentals in computer science and programmer, whether or not they ever touch Scheme again.
Top reviews from other countries
Short questions followed by answers.
Do you have to try to answer the questions before you read the answers?
Not necessarily all the time, but it is important you understand each question and answer before proceeding, Some of the time I used a piece of paper to hide the answers. The book starts off slow, but gets very hard towards the end. If you lose the thread of the argument, you must backtrack and pick it up again.
Is the book patronising?
I can see that some people might find the question-answer style and the drawings of elephants irritating, but I find them charming.
I want a manual on scheme. Is this the book for me?
This is the right book for you to read, but it is not a manual on scheme.
Who else ought to read the book?
Anyone interested in programming, in any language. Anyone who likes to think hard.
Who ought not to read the book?
Anyone on a diet. (The authors are obsessed with food.) Anyone who does not relish a challenge.
Is it the best book available on functional programming?
I have not read all of them, so cannot say, but it is the best textbook I have read on any subject.
Word of warning though... this was the first book that I've ever seen in the Q&A style. At first it was quite annoying and made me think why did they write it this way, this is childish. But now I think WOW every hard topic book should be written like this. It's mindblowingly good. Don't give up!!
This book is highly entertaining and will get you programming functional in no time. Hats off to the authors!
This is THE book to start understanding how recursive functions work. It even ends with a derivation for the Y-Combinator! The infamous Y-Combinator isn't just a startup accelerator. That was simply named after the actual combinator that's discussed in this book near the end. Just knowing that is pretty cool, but the value of this book is really in de-mystifying recursion.
Recursion isn't used in a lot of mainstream programming. It seems to have become out of fashion and very few mainstream languages now have tail-call optimization. Nevertheless, the resurgence in interest in functional programming demands one to learn about recursion.
Thanks to this book, I'm able to write recursive functions just as easily as writing an iterative for-loop. In fact, recursion has made a lot of my work much simpler because I no longer have to keep track of iterators and the like.