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Programming Pearls (ACM Press) Paperback – 27 Sep 1999
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This reviewer still has the original edition of Bentley's book, 14-years-old now. Bentley's influential and eponymous columns first appeared in Communications of the ACM. Programming Pearls contains 15 of these--now updated--columns.
In his book Bentley assumes little more than a working knowledge of C, but it's in no way a guide to C. Rather, it approaches programming in the same way William Morris approached design--as a creative act founded on knowledge of the craft. From the first essay, Bentley emphasises the importance of accurately defining the problem in arriving at a fast, robust and efficient solution. He gives a number of examples that show how real understanding can reduce programming time, increase accuracy and reduce bugs.
The essays are divided into three alliteratively named sections: Preliminaries, Performance and Product. The first section covers writing a program that's correct for the programmer and the client. The second addresses efficiency, code tuning and performance. The last is a little unfocussed, albeit still interesting: it covers sorts, searches and heaps among other subjects. Take note, though: the solutions in the appendices are, in true C fashion, pointers to solutions. Programming Pearls is such a delight, you're likely to find yourself reading it in the bath. --Steve Patient
From the Publisher
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When programmers list their favorite books, Jon Bentleys collection of programming pearls is commonly included among the classics. Just as natural pearls grow from grains of sand that irritate oysters, programming pearls have grown from real problems that have irritated real programmers. With origins beyond solid engineering, in the realm of insight and creativity, Bentleys pearls offer unique and clever solutions to those nagging problems. Illustrated by programs designed as much for fun as for instruction, the book is filled with lucid and witty descriptions of practical programming techniques and fundamental design principles. It is not at all surprising that Programming Pearls has been so highly valued by programmers at every level of experience.
In this revision, the first in 14 years, Bentley has substantially updated his essays to reflect current programming methods and environments. In addition, there are three new essays on testing, debugging, and timing set representations string problems All the original programs have been rewritten, and an equal amount of new code has been generated. Implementations of all the programs, in C or C++, are now available on the Web.
What remains the same in this new edition is Bentleys focus on the hard core of programming problems and his delivery of workable solutions to those problems. Whether you are new to Bentleys classic or are revisiting his work for some fresh insight, the book is sure to make your own list of favorites.See all Product description
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Instead of presenting solutions, the book proposes a problem in each chapter and then guides the reader thru the thought process that leads to better and better solutions. At the end there is a set of questions that invite the reader to explore related problems and devise his own solutions.
One of the most important things to take out of this book is the mindset that the first solution to a problem is usually orders of magnitude worse than what you can achieve by actively trying to improve it.
- Approx. 220 pages (which makes it less intimidating)
- Great use of English language (unusual for technical books)
- Good choice of topics
- Dialog style writing (successfully gets the message across)
I just love the way Jon Bentley writes. I don't know what else to say. These two books really teach the basics of solving programming problems. It takes many years to master the basics in practice but these books teach the basics well. I once wrote a blog post (http://www.catonmat.net/blog/three-beautiful-quicksorts/) about Jon Bentley's chapter in Beautiful Code that he based on a chapter on quick sort in Programming Pearls.
This book (together with More Programming Pearls) shares #3 in my all time Top 100 Favorite Programming, Computer and Science books:
The only bad thing I can say about the book is that I would have loved it if it were a good bit longer with even more examples. That it is not to say that it's a short book, quite the opposite actually - if you are to read it the way it was meant to be read, doing the exercises after each chapter, you will need to invest some time. And I'd say it'd all be worth it.
It goes through a list of generic problems, looking at data structures and algorithms which to use and why.
I am sending this out as birthday presents, and I will read this book again soon.
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But the book itself is not a legal copy, if you look at the black triangle on the top left corner, there are some text covered by some...Read more
If you are an algorithm's guy have this book on your bookshelf.Read more