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Expert C Programming Paperback – Jun 14 1994

4.5 out of 5 stars 65 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Prentice Hall; 1 edition (June 14 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0131774298
  • ISBN-13: 978-0131774292
  • Product Dimensions: 18.8 x 2.5 x 23.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 680 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 65 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #47,116 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

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Defying the stereotypical notion that technical books tend to be boring, Expert C Programming offers a lively and often humorous look at many aspects of C--from how memory is laid out to the details of pointers and arrays. The author reveals his points through invaluable anecdotes, such as stories of costly bugs, and through folklore, such as the contents of Donald Knuth's first publication. Each chapter ends with a section entitled "Some Light Relief," which discusses topics (topics that some may consider to be "recreational"), such as programming contests. A fabulous appendix on job interview questions finishes the book. --Jake Bond

From the Inside Flap


Browsing in a bookstore recently, I was discouraged to see the dryness of so many C and C++ texts. Few authors conveyed the idea that anyone might enjoy programming. All the wonderment was squeezed out by long boring passages of prose. Useful perhaps, if you can stay awake long enough to read it. But programming isn't like that!

Programming is a marvellous, vital, challenging activity, and books on programming should brim over with enthusiasm for it! This book is educational, but also interesting in a way that puts the fun back in functions. If this doesn't seem like something you'll enjoy, then please put the book back on the shelf, but in a more prominent position. Thanks!

OK, now that we're among friends, there are already dozens and dozens of books on programming in C - what's different about this one?

Expert C Programming should be every programmer's second book on C. Most of the lessons, tips, and techniques here aren't found in any other book. They are usually pencilled in the margin of well-thumbed manuals or on the backs of old printouts, if they are written down at all. The knowledge has accumulated over years of C programming by the author and colleagues in Sun's Compiler and Operating Systems groups. There are many interesting C stories and folklore, like the vending machines connected to the Internet, problems with software in outer space, and how a C bug brought down the entire AT&T long-distance phone network. Finally, the last chapter is an easy tutorial on C++, to help you master this increasingly-popular offshoot of C.

The text applies to ANSI standard C as found on PCs and UNIX systems. Unique aspects of C relating to sophisticated hardware typically found on UNIX platforms (virtual memory, etc.) are also covered in detail. The PC memory model and the Intel 8086 family are fully described in terms of their impact on C code. People who have already mastered the basics of C will find this book full of all the tips, hints, and shortcuts that a programmer usually picks up over a period of many years. It covers topics that many C programmers find confusing:

  • What does typedef struct bar {int bar;} bar; actually mean?
  • How can I pass different-sized multidimensional arrays to one function?
  • Why, oh why, doesn't extern char *p; match char p100; in another file?
  • What's a bus error? What's a segmentation violation?
  • What's the difference between char *foo and char(*foo)?

If you're not sure about some of these, and you'd like to know how the C experts cope, then read on! If you already know all of these things and everything else about C, get the book anyway to reinforce your knowledge. Tell the bookstore clerk that you're "buying it for a friend."

— PvdL, Silicon Valley, California

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Format: Paperback
The title of this message says it all. This is my 2nd time around reading this book. I bought it about 1 year ago and I'm reading it again just for fun really... The author keeps the book humorous throughout and you'll definitely know you're a geek when you find yourself snickering at all of the hilarious comments in the book. These comments aren't "fun filler" like other books use. It's strange how other books will just throw in silly comic headers at the beginning of each chapter or take time away from learning to say something stupid to try and get a laugh. Peter actually has comments that are hilarious, but will help you learn at the same time. Everything is extremely informative. My favorite chapters include:
Chapter 3: Unscrambling Declarations in C
Chapter 4: The Shocking Truth: C Arrays and Pointers are NOT the Same!
Chapter 5: Thinking of Linking
Chapter 7: Thanks for the Memory
Chapter 9: More about Arrays
Chapter 10: More about Pointers
Appendix: Secrets of Programmer Job Interviews
Yes, even the Appendix was excellent. This book will really help a novice C programmer gain a very FIRM grasp of pointers and C declarations that scared ... us when we first saw C. Find a good book on Algorithms ( Data Structures and Algorithm Analysis in C ) and you're definitely an expert in C!
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Format: Paperback
Ok, this is in answer to another review. First, I don't think this book was meant for the 20 yr pro. I know the title implies that but honestly I think it was meant for the beginner/slightly experienced programer. Anybody who has read K&R thru and thru should probably skip this book if your looking for more ways to improve your coding practices. Honestly I don't think you would gain that much from it. I would though suggest reading it for the humor.
And here is where I part with that reviewer. I find most of the humor to be both comprehensible and more to the point, funny. It does take a slightly twisted way at looking at the world. Most of the "wasted" paragraphs etc. are not actually wasted, if you're a mid lvl or beginner programer. Even some with experience can get some use out of this book. I do agree that this is probably a 3rd or 4th book for coders. As to the char** not being the same as const char**, just read it VERY carefully, after a bit you will understand. Though I do agree that the author could have been a bit clearer on that an a few other explanations.
I actually liked the varied topics, this book wasn't meant to be a reference encyclopedia nor a indepth analysis of some specific topic. AND personally I am tired of dry books. Which btw, this particular author has been just as guilty as most other computer book authors. Try his Java book and you will see what I mean.
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Format: Paperback
I've put this book #9 in my Top 100 Programming, Computer and Science books list:

Back to practical books, this is a classic book on C programming. I learned the language purely by programming and reading code examples without ever reading a single tutorial and this was my first real book on C programming language. This book is for people who already know C well. It presents subtle aspects of the language and reveals the shocking truth that C arrays and pointers are not the same thing. Language quirks are accompanied by interesting stories and suggestions called handy heuristics. It's amusingly written, and the historical anecdotes are very interesting as well.

I heard someone say, "You'll definitely know you're a geek when you find yourself chuckling at all of the hilarious comments in the book. What Peter van der Linden has produced is not so much a book about C programming as it is a dense little slab of hacker culture. It's a snapshot of the days when "the Internet" was almost synonymous with "UNIX account.""

Spot on. This book will increase your geekiness level by 10 points. Go get this book!
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Format: Paperback
This is an interesting book. It is unlike any other C programming book I have ever read. The book should have been called "A dated cornucopia of tips, tricks, problems, good, bad and ugly things about the C programming Languge."
Most of what the author has said is known to most professional programmers. But, it would definitely be an interesting read if you are new to the world of programming. Most of what the author says is still valid on most contemporary systems, especially if you ignore the oft references to DOS.
I believe a new C programmer should read this as his/her second/third book, just to feel confident among the pros. But, I wouldn't rate it as a must read.
Here are some of the problems with the book:
* too much stupid humor. And in more cases than not, the jokes don't even make you laugh!
* a hodge-podge of topics
* the presentation is not consistent. The author presents problems with pointers, then presents a section on casting, throws around a few programs from the popular IOCCC to impress the kids, then jumps back to pointers, and everything else on Earth.
* the author tries to make a case that C's operator precedence is broken! K&R said that ages back! The author wastes a lot of time lambasting the C standardization commitee! The author wastes quite a few paragraphs quoting sections from the ANSI std.
* the author does not explain anything clearly! Why is a char** not the same as a const char** is never explained! But, the fact is stated and a bogus explanation with useless stories is given over pages and pages.
So, I think this is a decent book, but, if you read K&R thoroughly, and/or implement/maintain enough C software you would know most of these things.
I wouldn't rate this book as a must read, but if you are still a student, and have a week to spare, then make it your second/thrid C book.
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