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36 Reviews
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars SICP is rewarding despite dense and rigorous reading.
Being a Freshman at MIT and having to use SICP as the textbook for my Intro to Comp. Sci. class, I have a passing urge to really slander this book. It is certainly very rigorous reading, with concepts and examples presented in the manner of a a gushing fire hydrant. From the opening concepts of abstraction and compound procedures, SICP builds at a blazing pace, covering...
Published on 14 May 1997

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28 of 50 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Try before buying
I haven't read the book and find it hard to know what it's all about because the reviews are so polarized. But I've learned that the book is used in an MIT course called 6.001. If you search the web for that you'll find the course's homepage with an ONLINE COPY of the book. There you can see for yourself if you like it. You can also download additional material including...
Published on 5 Aug 2004


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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars SICP is rewarding despite dense and rigorous reading., 14 May 1997
By A Customer
Being a Freshman at MIT and having to use SICP as the textbook for my Intro to Comp. Sci. class, I have a passing urge to really slander this book. It is certainly very rigorous reading, with concepts and examples presented in the manner of a a gushing fire hydrant. From the opening concepts of abstraction and compound procedures, SICP builds at a blazing pace, covering much more than just the basic material one would expect from a first-semester Comp. Sci. class, including topics which ought to be tucked away in later courses such as streams, register machine code, and compilation. However, the rewards of keeping up with the pace of SICP are tremendous, as the reader will undoubtedly have gotten quite a firm grasp of computer science and its challenges (Abelson and Sussman have included some of the on-going research topics of Comp. Sci. in SICP as exercises). SICP is a treausre of knowledge waiting to reward those willing to suffer in reaching it. I have personally both suffered and been rewarded. And if I ever get thirsty now, I have learned the art of drinking out of a spewing fire hydrant.
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48 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Best Books about Thinking about Programming, 4 Dec 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs, 2nd Edition (MIT Electrical Engineering and Computer Science) (Paperback)
This is a book that will change your perception of how to program, and what a program is really doing. It can't be read casually because it is important to think carefully about what the authors are saying.
The book illustrates how programming can be raised from writing a series of instructions minutely detailing how to do a task, to the higher level of simply specifying what should be done.
If you look at the other reviews, you will see that this book receives either 5 stars, or just 1. I would suggest that if you understand what this book is about, then you will also give it a 5 star rating.
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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally a good introduction to programming, 3 May 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs, 2nd Edition (MIT Electrical Engineering and Computer Science) (Paperback)
I am sure this book made excellent reading for any student taking Computer Science. But as I am studying on my own, I too find this book the best on the market. The exercises, the examples are all very rich and get to the point quickly. The book is very well supported by its website. The presentation is very fluent, clarity is its best feature. I feel I can finally learn the basics without being drown into lots of particularisations. This book feels more like the algebra of programming as opposed to many other programming books I've read which mainly give 'numerical examples', to keep the analogy. If basic maths (A level maths should be enough) is something you don't have much in common with than you may find this book hard to follow. Maybe a different approach may be of more use to you. But if like me you had a more consistent mathematical background, than this book is exactly what you need to get you into programming with no waste of time and effort.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Truly Great Classics of Computer Science, 8 Dec 2011
By 
Mr. C. Eales (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs, 2nd Edition (MIT Electrical Engineering and Computer Science) (Paperback)
SICP (a common code name for this book, along with the "Wizard Book", and sometimes the "Purple Book"), is a true classic of computer science. Note this is a Computer Science book, in fact it is a book about Computer Science, it is not a book about computing.

As the title suggests, but appears to be ignored by many reviewers, this is a book about the structure and interpretation of computer programs; it is not a book that teaches you how to write computer programs. However, if you are interested in the grandest and deepest ideas around the structure of computer programs then this book is superb. The ideas initially presented are clear and appear to be simple, but the text then leads you into considering the very deep and fascinating issues relating to the different styles of programming presented.

I first read this book twenty years ago, and even the thought of the adventures of "A. Hacker" and friends still makes me smile.

A master piece. This is a book that is meant to be enjoyed; it is not a book that shows you how to do things; it is a book that presents you questions.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Focus is on the art of programming, 30 Nov 1998
By A Customer
Unfortunately, most of the computer books that I read focus on cookie cutter solutions to problems. As a professional software engineer, I dont just want "howtos" for a small collection of problems. SICP goes a long way to expanding your capacity to solve problems in a timely fashion. Be prepared to work! This book is very knowledge dense, and each exercise pays large dividends for the time invested. From a programmers point of view, you will fall in love with scheme very quickly. Keep in mind this book is about the larger art of programming and not just scheme. It just happens to be a powerful language for expression of high level abstractions and ideas. If you are tired of books that teach syntax and simple solutions, and you are ready for the next level in skill development, read SICP and do the exercises. It will become one of the most rewarding experiences of your software carreer.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This isn't for kiddies looking for an easy ride, 28 July 1999
By A Customer
I first encountered SICP (1st edition) as a computer science student in the mid 80's. I would consider this book to be the single most significant influence on my development as a programmer, even though I never used it in a course. This is one of the few programming texts out there that attempts to go to the roots of computer science. Yes, the examples are difficult to work out, but they're worth it. If you are looking for any easy "A" in your CS class, then avoid this book. If you are interested in programming as an actual intellectual discipline, as opposed to something you just hack until it compiles, then check out SICP.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best general book on computer science ever written, 22 Jun 1999
By A Customer
This is not a book for mass consumption, as the negative reviews below (and eventually above) clearly indicate. This is a book about how to structure complexity so that it remains easily understandable and manageable. You may think this is obvious, yes? But do you know how to do it for immensely complex systems? That's what this book is about. It's the difference between being a mediocre programmer and a virtuoso. If you plan on writing code that will actually be looked at again, if you plan on designing anything anyone will ever care about, if you want your view of computational systems to change how you look at the world, this book is first on your reading list. If you want to write spaghetti code for a living, get "C++ for Dummies" instead.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a smart person's programming primer, 2 Dec 1998
By A Customer
Turning tradition upside down, this book builds up abstraction and theory rather than teaching where to put your semicolons to introductory computer science students. The upside to this is not that I can now sit down and write a commercial program, but rather that I can translate a problem in my head into an actual algorithm, something that other texts make you learn over a long time. Sure the book is challenging, but in the eyes of a computer nerd that's what makes this book so great.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No question, this book is a must read, 26 Oct 1997
By A Customer
My first exposure to this book was as a freshman at MIT in '86. Since then I've been exposed to an awful lot of computer science books. And I'm afraid the term "awful" has applied all too often. This book still stands out in my mind as one of the best comp. sci. texts I've ever read. It encompasses so many different areas of computer science that it has only been when I reread it years later that I really appreciated the full scope of the topics the book hits. Every footnote seems to branch off into another interesting facet of comp. sci. It is a bit challenging (it was geared to MIT students) but is definitely worth the read. If you get it make sure you track down MIT Scheme, the language used throughout the book, it'll help you get the most from the book, and is very interesting in its own right. In my opinion the approach the authors take is a much better one than that traditionally followed by "introductory" computer science texts.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Old school, hardcore computer science, 6 Oct 2006
I would hate to see the code from the reviewer who thinks recursion is no longer a valid topic for computer programming.

I agree with some of the other comments, this book is old school, but is that a bad thing. There are a lot of CS students graduating these days with little understanding of the basic. How many understand pointers, ( or even recursion ) for that matter.

Its interesting but a lot of the top programmers seem to have graduated the MIT course, few of them have a Computing & Business Studies degree !!!

Buy this book, work through it slowly, and enjoy the brain twisting knowledge you gain from it when you get to the end
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