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Feynman Lectures On Computation Paperback – 7 Jul 2000

4.7 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 318 pages
  • Publisher: Westview Press; New Ed edition (7 July 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0738202967
  • ISBN-13: 978-0738202969
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.8 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 57,041 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Richard Feynman was, until his death in 1988, the most famous physicist in the world. Only an infinitesimal part of the general population could understand his mathematical physics, but his outgoing and sunny personality, his gift for exposition, his habit of playing the bongo drums, and his testimony to the Presidential Commission on the Challenger Space Shuttle disaster turned him into a celebrity.

Freeman Dyson, of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, called him 'the most original mind of his generation', while in its obituary The New York Times described him as 'arguably the most brilliant, iconoclastic and influential of the postwar generation of theoretical physicists'.

Product Description

About the Author

Richard P. Feynman was raised in Far Rockaway, New York, and received his Ph.D. from Princeton. He held professorships at both Cornell and the California Institute of Technology. In 1965 he received the Nobel Prize for his work on quantum electrodynamics. He died in 1988.


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Format: Paperback
A series of audio-taped lectures given at the Californian Institute of Technology (CalTech) from 1984 to 1986, supplemented by Feynman's own notebooks and contemporaneous lecture notes, provides the source material from which this book derives. Its title, which could equally accurately have been rendered "Lectures on the limits of Computation", hints at the interdisciplinary nature of the book (covering Physics, Mathematics, Quantum Mechanics, Electronics... etc.!).
The interesting Forewords provided by the Editors (detailing the book's progeny) and by Feynman himself (hinting at his often iconoclastic approach: e.g. "Computer Science" isn't really a Science - it's more closely related to Engineering) preface some fascinating Chapters which follow. Since Feynman's modus operandi is to think things through for oneself, he urges his students to do the same: in many Chapters there are Problems (which are indeed non-trivial exercises for the reader); but beware, no 'solutions' are provided!
The first Chapter is a short 'low-key' Introduction to Computers which introduces logical operations such as AND, XOR and NOT. The second Chapter, Computer Organization (sic) develops these primitive ideas and presents generic (wiring-diagram) implementations of these logical operations or gates. Feynman identifies a minimum, sufficient, set of logic diagrams - labelling them as AND, NOT, FANOUT and EXCHANGE. Using these primitives alone, any logic operation can be generated. The interesting concept of 'reversibility of a computation' is introduced here and dealt with more fully in Chapters five and six (q.v.).
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Format: Hardcover
Feynman explains the fundamentals of computers--both themathematics and the physics at the heart of computing. He gives the appropriate amount of detail, enough to explain his points, but not so much that the reader gets bogged down. He also makes few assumptions about the reader's prior knowledge, so that anyone with a scientific or mathematical background can easily understand.
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Format: Hardcover
The Feynman lectures on Computation (volume 1) takes into account an all-encompassing view of the underlying theories of computer science and electrical engineering as it relates to computer systems development. Volume 1 sets a solid foundation for advanced topics in the field and I would highly reccommend the book for any freshmen EE or CS student wishing to see what the next few years have in store for them. Being a computer systems engineer, I can't wait until volume 2 is released.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Many basic texts on computing start with a discussion of Turing Machines, but then jump straight to modern programing idioms. Feynman doesn't. Following the style of his famous Lectures on Physics, he starts with basic logic gates, goes on to Finite State Machines and Turing Machines, and then discusses a range of topics including coding and information theory, reversible computation and the thermodynamics of computation, and quantum mechanical computers. These provide a thorough understanding of the physical basis of computation and its role in physical processes as well as standard computing.

Whilst the book inevitably has a slightly period feel, it should be required reading for all students of computing because it covers topics which all practitioners should know ... but you won't find in most Computer Science curricula.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a physics graduate interested in computer science, I was looking for a starting point in the subject from a perspective closer to home. Feynman, as always, does not disappoint.
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