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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Computer Scientists are People
At about 15 pages per computer scientist, you get brief but often substantive introductions to some key figures in computer science. For those that intrigue you, you can then look elsewhere, but from this book alone you can get a good feel for some of the key problems computer scientists have addressed. You'll also get a good feeling for what these scientists were like as...
Published on 25 Oct 2007 by calmly

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Flashy an condescending
The idea behind the book is great: to provide short biographies of fifteen great computer scientists. However the authors have done the usual thing in "popularization" books: they throw in jokes and they explain the technical details through silly metaphors. Perhaps they thought this would make the subject less dry, but I get the feeling this book is addressed...
Published on 29 Jun 1998


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Flashy an condescending, 29 Jun 1998
By A Customer
The idea behind the book is great: to provide short biographies of fifteen great computer scientists. However the authors have done the usual thing in "popularization" books: they throw in jokes and they explain the technical details through silly metaphors. Perhaps they thought this would make the subject less dry, but I get the feeling this book is addressed to teenagers.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Computer Scientists are People, 25 Oct 2007
This review is from: Out of their Minds: The Lives and Discoveries of 15 Great Computer Scientists (Paperback)
At about 15 pages per computer scientist, you get brief but often substantive introductions to some key figures in computer science. For those that intrigue you, you can then look elsewhere, but from this book alone you can get a good feel for some of the key problems computer scientists have addressed. You'll also get a good feeling for what these scientists were like as people and how they thought. Quotes from interviews with each gets you closer to them.

People who were just names to me get a chance to come alive. Some seemed quite likable, like John Backus (who I'd only known as the "B" in BNF) and Egdger Dijksra (who's a lot more than a warning against goto's). All are challenging thinkers who made some very hard things seem easier: Lamport especially seemed to have had a knack for simplifying some hard problems. But it's hardly all that simple and some of the discussions of their work took me some careful reading and re-reading to get a handle on.

This book delivers with its combination of showing these scientists as human beings and introducing some of the great challenges of computer science. If you're a programmer too often busy with boring work, this may be your chance to get back in touch with some fascinating discoveries. If you're not a computer scientist, even though some of the discussions may be rough going, there's plenty of good material to acquaint you with what computer scientists do and how intriguing it can be. 15 pages may not seem enough to get to know any scientist (I could have used more on Alan Kay and John McCarthy) but, as a introduction, this book comes thru strong, capturing much of the excitement that you never suspect if you just see rows of programmers in cubicles typing away
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