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Beautiful Code: Leading Programmers Explain How They Think Paperback – Jul 6 2007
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About the Author
Andy Oram is an editor at O'Reilly Media, a highly respected book publisher and technology information provider. An employee of the company since 1992, Andy currently specializes in free software and open source technologies. His work for O'Reilly includes the first books ever published commercially in the United States on Linux, and the 2001 title Peer-to-Peer. His modest programming and system administration skills are mostly self-taught.
Greg Wilson holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Edinburgh, and has worked on high-performance scientific computing, data visualization, and computer security. He is the author of Data Crunching and Practical Parallel Programming (MIT Press, 1995), and is a contributing editor at Doctor Dobb's Journal, and an adjunct professor in Computer Science at the University of Toronto.
Top customer reviews
During my studies I had to go through all these Kernighans, Ritchies, Knuths, Ahos, Petzolds, and so on. I don't say I didn't liked them however, Beautiful Code reminds me all these books some way. Each problem described is somehow intriguing and innovative while at the same time you can say ' hey, I have read that already, somewhere. Don't let me be misunderstood, I value the book, but for me, and for now, it's not the best pick. Hawking wrote once: 'Somebody told me, that each equation put into my book will reduce the number of sold copies by two ' thus I have referred to just one'. Well, Beautiful Code has much, much more than one equation inside.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
And one chapter did it! Titled "Accelerated Population Count" by Henry S. Warren, Jr (which is about calculating bit counts in arrays) is truly breathtaking and inspiring. Now, is it worth buying this book just for one small but very good article? Maybe, since A) it's that good, and B) I can't find it mentioned anywhere else, including the truly magnificent "Hacker's Delight" by same Henry S. Warren Jr. (the "Hacker's Delight" describes cool tricks in the bit counting area, but doesn't mention CSA).
If you are interested in the premise of this book, here is my recommendation:
1. Buy the "Programming Pearls", and get to know the real beautiful code 101 by heart
2. Buy the "Hacker's Delight", and keep is as a reference on the bit twiddling algorithms
3. Stop at the library or bookstore for 15 minutes, and read the "Accelerated Population Count" from the "Beautiful Code"
You can trust my opinion because I bought the book to test reading textbooks on my first tablet and had very low expectations (the title is a bit of a facepalm :) - the book also donates to charity or something too.
The individual writers mostly fail to impress on us the beauty of the code - when and where they felt it, how it occurred to them and what followed. I feel an existing relationship with the beauty in code helped me appreciate the book.
It also feels unedited: what book are they assembling - something for experienced programmers to appreciate or are they seeking to inspire plebs to read code?
The former is sort of achieved but there's a lot of very skip-able faff.
As inspiration it covers a broad slew of problems (some of which are architectural rather than procedural) and the solutions are often fairly technical. If you happen to have at least considered most of the problems and have solid experience in 10 languages and 3 paradigms, that's fine but it ain't gonna work for the vast majority of devs.
Were I editing this book, I would call it "Code Stories" and insist that an attempt be made to use pseudo-code and diagrams; that the stories be English and the code be formal.
There is savage beauty in C and assembler which provides some of the best entertainment in book. These could be contrasted with modern standards to comic effect imho - that's definitely what I was doing when I read them :)
I want to fix this book which indicates I think it has a lot of value. In it's present form I think the reader has to do a lot of work from a perspective of skill and experience to appreciate it.
Worth the read but not convinced it is worth the cost.
I started more than half the chapters and skipped on because either it was too obtuse or specific to a given language/problem or too general to be useful.
However there are also some great chapters.
If you are looking for a gift for the tech-head who has everything then this could be a good choice. If funds are tight and you are buying for yourself you probably have better ways to spend the cash.
I can't be too critical. The intent was noble and good. The authors are donating any profits to charity. I can't point to a better way of writing/structuring the book.
So yes it's good and I liked it but my praise is conditional and constrained. I feel churlish for saying these negative things because it is, as I said, well intentioned. I just wish it was better described as it was not what I thought I'd be getting. Not that I feel ripped off, just a little bemused.
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