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Introduction to the Theory of Computation [Hardcover]

Michael Sipser
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)

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Introduction to the Theory of Computation Introduction to the Theory of Computation 2.0 out of 5 stars (1)
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Book Description

December 1996 053494728X 978-0534947286
Presents computer science theory from a uniquely intuitive big picture perspective. Author grounds his clear and interesting study on broad mathematical principles, now low-level technical details. DLC: Machine theory.

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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

Ph.D. University of California - Berkeley

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent introduction to computer science theory Oct. 25 2003
This book is aimed as an introductory text book on computer science theory. The book is suited for both undergraduate and graduate studies. The first three chapters of the book, regular expressions, context free languages and the church-turing thesis are apt for an introductory class for the undergraduate level. The remaining 7 chapters provide more than enough content for advanced undergraduate or graduate studies.
This is the first book on computer science theory that I have seen, which is actually written in understandable English. As compared to the previous introductory texts by Hopcroft or Papadimitriou, Sipser shuns writting the entire book using just symbols of formal mathematics. This is not to say that there is no formalism in the book. There is adequate use of formal mathematics in the proofs of the book, but not so much as to scare even in most intrepid readers like in previous books on this subject.The fact I liked most about this book is that every proof in the book is accompanied by a "Proof Idea" which explains using diagrams and plain english how exactly the proof works. This followed by the formal proof. The problems at the end of each chapter are fairly interesting, and some of the * marked problems can be fairly challenging for a first time student.
Another amazing thing about this book is the amount of content it covers. I would have never expected a book of only 400 pages to cover computer science theory all the way from introductory undergraduate to advanced graduate levels. This is because, the author focusses only on core concepts and strives to make them as clear as possible. For example, this book has only one chapter on regular expressions, while every other book that I have seen has at least 3-4 chapters full of gory details.
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5.0 out of 5 stars BEST Computer Theory book April 21 2003
This book is by far the best book that I read!!! It presents topics in a very interesting and readable way.
My advice is read this book if you an undergrad student, even though instructor might be using a different book. If you are a grad student this books makes an excellent reference for refreshing your knowledge of Computer Theory. Computer Theory is not my area of interest, but this book makes it very interesting and fun area; which is quiet unusual for Computer Theory books.
I am a grad student taking advanced "Computer Theory" class. I have bought couple books including this one, and checked out from library another 6. This book in an introductory book and it has excellent coverage of the basics, and it has some brief but very good coverage of advanced topics as well. I read this book every time to refresh my knowledge before I go on to more in depth topics. The only thing that I wish, is that the undergrad course that I have taken a number years ago was using this book; and/or I read this book when I was an undergrad.
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Every Computer Science who wants to do Theory of Computation should have this book. Theory of Computation is not that easy to grasp at first, but after a while you'll like it. However, this book doesn't have a solution companion book, which is very frustrating because no one should expect a senior student to know the right answer to some of the questions in the book as the solutions are tricky sometimes.
However, this is the only good book on Theory of Computation for beginners, sadly so. It's just not good enough to earn a 5-star.
I struggled when doing the course with this book because as I was trying to do the questions in the book, I had no references whether I was on the right track or not. And trust me, without the solution book, some instructors don't know how to solve some of the questions either, thus don't expect a student to do it all.
I don't like the idea of holding back the solution book but only instructors have access to it. What good is it if students can't check or learn from the solution.
If you have any other good book on Theory of Computation that has an accompanying solution book, please email me, I'll be much interested because Theory of Computation is what I want to pursue in Grad school.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great book Feb. 5 2002
Michael Sipser has an undoubted gift for writing on this subject. The book is a coincise and easy read. But be cautious, this doesn't mean superficial and poor. The book contains all the material needed for a good course on Theory of Computation and Complexity. Perhaps it has not plenty of details like other books as Hopcroft & Ullman or Kozen or Papadimitrou, but don't underestimate the vastity of the treated topics, what is important is that every time you finish a chapter, you have the sensation that you've learned what you should have to. And probably you did due to Sipser's writing style, provided that you can afford to skip "some" more detailed/advanced topics. Or you might just be looking for some further stuff like Myhill-Nerode or Rabin-Shepherdson theorems or Chomsky Hierarchy for example, and you would have to look elsewhere for them. However, I've never been told that the best book is the most complete one. As long as I've learned, the best book is the one that best fits your needs, and that fitting these needs it suceeds to transmit the knowledge you're looking for in an effective way. That's why if this stuff is not required by your course, you would be perfectly fine with this book in your hands.
Proofs on theorems are given virtually always in two steps: first you're presented with the idea that lies behind the proof, and then you get the proof itself in a more rigorous fashion. Again, Sipser strikes here because it's harder NOT to understand one of his proofs than the contrary simply because the presentation is always clear and understandable.
As a matter of fact, Sipser (as he point out in the preface) almost always avoid to overload proofs given by construction with more rigorous following proofs (e.g.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Satisfied!
The book was in good condition and arrived a day earlier than the expected day. I was very grateful for this fast delivery since I have homework assignments from this book.
Published on Oct. 4 2010 by Mikaela Bell
5.0 out of 5 stars Probably the best computation theory text for students
In my opinion this is one of the best written books in the CS discipline, a must have for every computer scientist. Read more
Published on March 12 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars A Near Perfect Computer Theory Textbook
This book is suitable for beginners and graduate students who want to explor the theory of computation . It explains the hard theory and logic by easy sentences and words. Read more
Published on Jan. 3 2004 by CHENG-CHUNGLI
5.0 out of 5 stars An EXCELLENT Automata/Theory of Computation book
This book is one of the best written books on Automata/Theory of Computation that I have ever seen. It is a great introduction to the subject. Read more
Published on Nov. 3 2003 by S Clayton
5.0 out of 5 stars inspired
I was trying to understand quantum computing and i read
this book as a preliminary material on classical computation.
I found it very clear, concise and informative. Read more
Published on March 3 2003
1.0 out of 5 stars Terrible, Unbelievably Confusing
I'm confused about how this book got such a good rating. Hmmm. Personally, I think it is the absolute worst book that I have ever read, or should I say "tried" to read. Read more
Published on Feb. 8 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic book to introduce theory of computation.
I think that this book is by far the best introductory text on theory of computation and complexity that I have read so far. Read more
Published on Jan. 29 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Theory with no fear
Sipser did a surprising and didactical synthesis on classic TC topics. And with wit, too! His work is not a boring opus. Read more
Published on Jan. 27 2003 by Celso Luiz L. Rodrigues
5.0 out of 5 stars very good
This really is the clearest and, well, most beautiful theory textbook that I have ever read and used for teaching. Congratulations.
Published on Nov. 22 2002 by Cem Say
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Text
I have (comparatively) minimal background in math and only as much programming/compsci as I've managed to teach myself, and yet this book was very approachable and digestable. Read more
Published on May 12 2002 by "jcmcm6"
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