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Liad Weinberger (Israel)

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OpenCL Programming Guide (OpenGL)
OpenCL Programming Guide (OpenGL)
by Aaftab Munshi
Edition: Paperback
Price: £34.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mostly a good choice for learning OpenCL, 12 Aug 2011
OpenCL Programming Guide is the 2nd book (to my awareness) being published, which deals with the new and exciting standard by the KHRONOS Group: OpenCL. The goal of this book is to provide the reader with an extensive walkthrough of the standard, providing explanations to complement the standard's specs. The authors of the book dim it "a pragmatic guide for people interested in writing code", and that it is.

The book is at its first edition, and it shows. Throughout the book there are typos, and what can only be explained as 'copy & paste' originated mistakes. Some of the code samples contain generic errors such as memory leaks or incorrect remarks, and some of the figures simply do not convey the intended concept, or are erroneous. The majority of errata I personally reported dealt with these types of errors, which are arguably acceptable (for a first edition) as they are not regarding the focus of the book, however, the book also contains some errata that does touch the actual focus, like an incorrect explanation (e.g. reported issue #14 on pg.132, and reported issue #4 on pg.65), or incorrect usage of returned information (e.g. reported issue #8 on page 88).

On the other hand, the book does provide good insight on a vast portion of the standard. Although it claims to cover the entire spec, the level of this coverage is inconsistent and in some aspects completely lacking (e.g. the explanation of clEnqueueTask() could have been accompanied with a concise example, but in turn ended up as a short sub-section). On the portions with most interest, i.e., OpenCL's support for data-parallel algorithms, the book does provide extended information, and adds to the OpenCL specs, by clarifying the concepts.

The 2nd part of the book, which was added rather close to the final release of the book (from the eyes of a SafariBooksOnline RoughCuts reader), provides 9 case studies of OpenCL usage. Some of these are purely pedagogic (e.g. chapter 15), but some provide more real-world examples of how OpenCL can be used, and optimized (especially for a GPU). These add another dimension to the book, and contribute to its relevancy.

On a closing note, I do think that the book is worth the while. It is currently the best option besides reading the specs, to learn the OpenCL APIs and OpenCL C programming language, and despite the shortcomings I've mentioned, it does manage to provide the gist of OpenCL, and add insight to the standard.


Proper disclosure: OpenCL and GPU programming is what I do for a living.

In the Earth Abides the Flame (Fire of Heaven)
In the Earth Abides the Flame (Fire of Heaven)
by Russell Kirkpatrick
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Editorial error or a temporary jump out of character?, 19 Oct 2009
First of all, this is in essence a positive review. I really enjoy this and the previous book in the trilogy, and Russell's writing style. However, I came across something that struck me as a bit odd while reading "In the earth abides the flame", and would like to share in the hope that others might shed some light on this, or maybe even Russell himself could respond. I hope I'm not giving too many spoilers here, I'll try not give away anything that is revealing of the storyline itself.

In "Across the face of the world" we are presented with the character of Phemanderac, the philosopher. Since the initial meeting of him and Leith, in the cell of the Widuz, we get the sense that Phemanderac is a man who chooses his words very carefully, and is very articulate. However, when he discovers the 5 books, and the parchment baring the riddle of the Jugom Ark, he has a slip of the tongue, and makes an error that can either be an editorial error (someone didn't notice the mistake, author, editor, proof readers, etc.) or a temporary jump out of character for Phemanderac.

The slip of tongue, as I see it, is in a quotation Phemanderac makes of the riddle on the parchment. The riddle itself has two verses, and the first one ends with the words "Making nations whole again." Phemanderac, trying to explain the meaning to the archivist with whom the discovery of the 5 books was made, while still holding the parchment in his hands, quotes the line as follows: "Making peoples whole again." (ch.3-ItEAtF.) Not careful with the quotation of such an important discovery, while still holding the parchment in his hands? I find that odd.

Although a jump out of character for Phemanderac may be acceptable, especially within the given scene, and Phemanderac's obvious and unhidden excitement over the discovery, I tend to think that this is just an editorial error. I'll explain why: later in the same scene Phemanderac regains his articulate nature, and convinces the archivist to allow him to make a copy of the riddle.

If anyone else noticed this, and has some insight, or if by mere chance Russell becomes aware of this question, please do not hesitate to respond with your thoughts on the matter.

Thank you for reading my comment, Liad Weinberger.

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