Types and Programming Languages
Benjamic C. Pierce
A classic text on type systems that I'm only now getting to :-( My bad.
On nature and Language
I suspect I'm something of a linguistic
minamilist myself so I'm looking forward to reading what the great man
has to say.
Natural Born Cyborgs: Minds, Technologies, and the Future of Human Intelligence
This book is brimful of excellent not-many-people-know-that factoids
about the English language. Examples : Shakespeare is responsible for
the phrase "to back a horse". There are about 150 words in English
that got there because of typos in dictionaries (ha!). "demit" is the
antonym of "commit" which, unfortunately, has fallen into
disuse. Instead, we geeks have to say "roll back" as the opposite of
"commit". What a shame.
My favourite new word out of this book? Catachresis. Yummy.
Algorithmics - The spirit of computing
by David Harel
A very readable 30 thousand feet tour of formal correctness,
efficiency, intractability, universality, undecidability, parallelism
and probabilistic methods. In other words, big chunks of Computer
Science in a digestable 400 pages or so.
A county by county breakdown of scientific shenanigans in Ireland over
It turns out that the mathematician George
Stokes - he of 'Navier Stokes Equations' fame. (shudder). Was born
just down the road from where I live in Sligo.
Even closer to home (Collooney) is the birthplace of William Higgins
who invented the chemical notation for Oxygen.
Down in Cork, an accountant by the name of Percy Ludgate had the
designs for a computer in 1909. Like the well known Babbage machine,
it was never built but it contained some fundamental innovatations
such as the concept of a subroutine.
Its hard to put this book down once you dip into it.
The man who loved only numbers
An engaging bio of Paul Erdos, the eccentric mathematician. His field,
graph theory is particularly relevant on the platform known as the
Web. In particular the concept of an "Erdos number" invented by his
colleagues is an early example of what today would probably be called "social sofware".
Carl Shapiro & Hal Varian
A sobering analysis of the economic realities of the software and
e-content businesses. Anybody on the receiving end of vendor pitches
about "open systems" and "zero lockin" and "standards based" design
needs to read this book.
There are only so many business models for software and yes, they
pretty much all involve maximising your switching costs and squeezing
you for recurring revenue. Remember, their business model is not your
That all fine and good. Its the realities of capitalism. I'm all for
it. But I'm also all for customers being cognisant of the rules
of the game. This book spells them out.
The Tipping Point
An interesting and easy read. Some times things reach a point and
then...bang, all is changed. Obviously really, once you see it
written down. When reading about connectors and mavens, I found myself
buttoning people I knew into those categories. The organisational magic
number stuff is very interesting too. I will never be able to look at
the number 150 again without thinking about it.
The Social Life of Information
John Seely Brown, Paul Duguid
Interesting sanity check on the information technology
revolution. Information, its production, desimmination and use are all
extremely social phenomena. Failure to cater for 'soft' issues in IT
can lead to unexpected negative consequences.
The Monk and the Philosopher
Jean-Francois Revel & Mathiew Ricard
An engaging series of conversations beteen a father and a son who
happen to be western philosopher and Tibetan Buddhist monk
East meets west stuff on epistomology, consciousness, morality etc.
Metamagical Themas - Questing for the Essence of Mind and Pattern
Douglas R. Hofstadter
Great collection of essays from the full vista of Hofstadter's
interests. From Rubic Cubes to chaos to AI to number numbness. A great
to dip into which always gives me something to think about.
The Search for the Perfect Language
A scholarly tour through the most prominent attempts at constructing
perfect languages over the centuries. Reading this book will make you
appreciate the complexities of language and may even lead to an
appreciation of those irregular verbs that drove you wild in school.
Godel, Escher, Bach
Wonderful. As a kid in first year comp. sci., this book was an eye
opener. It provided validation of a suspicion I had that computing -
especially software - could just as easily be housed in the Arts
Just read it. Drop everything and read it NOW.
Mark Lutz, Laura Lewin, Frank Willson
A classic. The first edition of this got me started with Python many years ago. Back then it was one of only
two books available on Python. How things have changed.
Words and Rules: The Ingredients of Language
An engaging tour (I flicked some of the detail) around human language
and its rules. I have a newfound appreciation for irregular verbs and
a boxload of new "not many people know that" factoids.
Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy
A wonderful hypertexted dictionary. Impossible to put down because any term you look up, probably is within 6 degrees of separation of every other term and the hypertext will get you there.
Strange Beauty: Murray Gell-Mann and the Revolution in Twentieth-Century Physics
A bio of Murray Gell-Mann. Very readable. Fascinating insights into
the mans personality as well as his work. I'd recommend reading it
back-to-back with Genius: Richard Feynman and Modern
Genius: Richard Feynman and Modern Physics
A bio of the great Richard Feynman. Very accomplishes as you would expect from Gleick. I'd recommend reading it
back-to-back with Strange Beauty.
Enterprise Integration Patterns : Designing, Building, and Deploying Messaging Solutions
Gregor Hohpe, Bobby Woolf
In case you had not noticed, software integration using XML messaging
is basically how Enterprise Application Integration will be done for
the forseable future. Web Services, SOAP, REST, Tuple Spaces, SOA,
ESB, Indigo, MDB - take your pick. Messaging is *not* about
objects. Messaging is *not* about databases. Messaging is *not* about
two phase commit ACID transactions. If you are an object guy or a
database guy struggling to get to grips with messaging, this book is
Chaos - Making a new science
This was the first book I read about chaos theory. In 96 I think. For
a few years before that I had been coding up fractals and fernleaves
for display on a 32 bit TI graphics chip we used at work.
A great easy reading introduction and some great plates.
A book about war and science and math and money. The only novel I have
ever read that contains a perl script. Whats not to like?
Naming and Necessity
Thinking about URIs versus URNs? Contemplating a bout of nominalism?
Planning an argument with a logical positivist? This book is for you.
Kripke is one of those exacerbating thinkers (like Chomsky) who
says/writes intriguing stuff on some subject and then moves off to
think about other stuff, leaving a trail of debate in their wake.
In Kripke's case, he questions a whole bunch of generally accepted
stuff from Russell and Frege to do with names and what names really
Its fascinating to read this stuff with one eye on URIs and the other