August 07, 2013
Welcome to August 7th. Midpoint of summer for us (your hemisphere may vary). On this day in 1944 IBM dedicated the first program-controlled calculator, the Harvard Mark I. It could store 72 numbers and a division operation took 15.3 seconds. Oh, and it was fifty feet long and eight feet tall.
Programming has gotten a little easier since then, but to be a great programmer you still need a broad mix of knowledge and skills. And whether you realize it or not, mathematical concepts still play a huge role in daily programming, from obvious algorithms to subtleties of the limits of the computer itself.
For a fun read that will broaden your experience and let you amaze your friends, come get a copy of Good Math, now in print and shipping from pragprog.com/book/mcmath.
Why do Roman numerals persist? How do we know that some infinities are larger than others? And how can we know for certain a program will ever finish? In this fast-paced tour of modern and not-so-modern math, computer scientist Mark Chu-Carroll explores some of the greatest breakthroughs and disappointments of more than two thousand years of mathematical thought. There is joy and beauty in mathematics, and in more than two dozen essays drawn from his popular “Good Math” blog, you’ll find concepts, proofs, and examples that are often surprising, counterintuitive, or just plain weird.
Mark begins his journey with the basics of numbers, with an entertaining trip through the integers and the natural, rational, irrational, and transcendental numbers. The voyage continues with a look at some of the oddest numbers in mathematics, including zero, the golden ratio, imaginary numbers, Roman numerals, and Egyptian and continuing fractions. After a deep dive into modern logic, including an introduction to linear logic and the logic-savvy Prolog language, the trip concludes with a tour of modern set theory and the advances and paradoxes of modern mechanical computing.
If your high school or college math courses left you grasping for the inner meaning behind the numbers, Mark’s book will both entertain and enlighten you.
Now in print and shipping from pragprog.com/book/mcmath.
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