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Expert C Programming [Paperback]

Peter van der Linden
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
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Product Description

From Amazon

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

Preface

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

From the Back Cover

This is a very different book on the C language! In an easy, conversational style, Peter van der Linden, of Sun's compiler and OS kernel group, presents dozens of astonishing examples drawn from practical experience, including:

  • Software that blew up the space probe to Venus
  • The C bug that shut down the entire AT&T phone system
  • C programmer job interview secrets
  • Why programmers can't tell Halloween from Christmas day
  • The C code for a complete BASIC interpreter

Expert C Programming reveals the coding techniques used by the best C programmers. It relates C to other languages, and includes an introduction to C++ that can be understood by an programmer without weeks of mind-bending study. Covering both the IBM PC and UNIX systems, it is an entertaining and educational romp through C showing how experts really use it. Expert C Programming is a must read for anyone who wants to learn more about the implementation, practical use, and folklore of C.

"Not just clearly written, but fun to read. The tone and style of this text should make this a popular book with professional programmers. However, the tone of this book will make it very popular with undergraduates. Appendix A alone would make the purchase of this book a must. It's filled with great advice."

—Professor Jack Beidler, Chairman, Department of Computer Science, University of Scranton

"So that's why extern char *cp isn't the same as extern char cp. I knew that it didn't work despite their superficial equivalence, but I didn't know why. I also love the job interview test questions on C."

—David S. Platt, Rolling Thunder Computing

"In Expert C Programming, Peter van der Linden combines C language expertise and a subtle sense of humor to deliver a C programming book that stands out from the pack. In a genre too often known for windy, lifeless prose, van der Linden's crisp language, tongue-in-cheek attitude, and real-world examples engage and instruct."

—John Barry, author of Sunburst, Technobabble, and other books

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Preface

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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