Top critical review
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He knows no more than formulas.
on 16 June 1999
I was told by one of my friends that this book has been reviewed in this site and obtained five-star comments.
Having used this book as a text book for a full term, I really enjoyed nothing from the book, except for, maybe, its complete coverage on various topics and the depth it touches on (,which is the reason I still give it a three-star evaluation).
The author seemingly knows nothing about the essence of the concepts he tries to develope in his book ( although this in fact should not be true given the fact that he is such a famous person in the area, his writing makes him to look so). He extensively uses complicated mathematics to develope the ideas, without any instructive interpretation of those formulas. Mathematical derivation is certainly necessary in such kind of books, but a conceptual insight into the formulas is indeed more important than the math itself. If it were Ronald Bracewell who wrote the book, it would contain 10 times more insights into the concepts and 10 times less mathematics to confuse readers.
Usually for a book written in such a style, one would think it should be mathematically rigorous (as a trade-off of being boring). However , in this book even the rigorousness is not fulfilled. There are loosey-goosey derivations everwhere. Furhtermore, erroneous illustrations can be found throughout the book (some are even as the title of a section). This wouldn't be a surprise to people who are familiar with his writing style: in one of his other book on DSP, things are even worse.
To make my comments more concrete, I will just mention a few such examples. When he derives the power spectral density for a digitally modulated signal, there are quite a lot confusion he made in terms of the linkage of the psd of a digital signal and that of an analog signal, and even the autocorrelation function was oddly formed without any explanation. When he expains the Nyquist criterion for zero ISI, the Fourier theroy was poorly developed, I would assume Bracewell will just use a few figures, without any math, to do a much better job. In discussing the channel capacity, a erroneous statement is made on the title of a section, saying "achieving the channel capacity with orthorgonal signals", where he messes up the concepts between channel capacity and the Shannon limit (Eb/N0) for an arbitary small transmission error.
So in general, I do not give too much credit to the author, and strongly object using this book as a text book. Nevertheless, you can use it as a reference (since it is rather compelete) to get some rough understanding on various topics, but, keep in mind, do not trust it too much.