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on 8 August 1999
Besides the heavy and dull material (which may not be that bad at all) this book has an unfriendly style, as if the authors are trying to elevate themselves above the crowd, instead of teach something. I won't recommend this text even to my enemies.
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on 5 October 1998
As the standard text for the introductory computing course, I have heard vicious, bitter commentary as well as singificant praise from fellow computer science and past students.
Nevertheless, there seems to be common points of agreement which my own experiences support. Simply there is fewer more ambitious and innovative books as this one. SICP covers such vast areas of programming theory in such terse, almost polemic language (helped by the use of arcane Scheme), that it can be covered almost as a poetic manual to the art of programming. As much as a meditation of the process as a procedural discourse on said subject.
Yes, is it appropriate for an introductory course? Clearly, the answer is NO. In fact, in our school, the book is literally thrown at the students, who are subject to learning the course by themselves with paltry guidance from professor or assistant. I assure you for a freshman who doesn't get the assistance that MIT students take for granted, the book becomes a puzzling, painful enigma that does more harm than good. Because the book requires a paradigm shift from linear to recursive problem solving, even seasoned programmers will need help to understand the key concepts.
Many peers have said that this book is essentially hostile to introductory programees. It seeks to teach theory; it seeks to teach method, but does neither particularly well for the sake of the audience. It fails rather miserably in introducing basic concepts in a manner anything related to an 18 year old computer student who just got out of high school. One conjectures that the terse language of the book suggests the reader should be already familiar with many of its concepts.
It is, in effect, forcing a child to learn "Hamlet" when he/she is trying to read Dr. Seuss.
Looking back at the book, frankly, I do find it remarkably rich. In fact, I'd wish such a course might have been taught after an APPROPRIATE introductory course on structures and program interpretation was taught. Alas, this book does claim to be an introductory programming book. In that sense, without significant assistance, this book bludgeonly fails to do so.
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on 18 January 2006
I am doing a first year Computer Science degree.. This books is always recommended as being the best not only to learn scheme but also to program for beginners. I used it only once, because I found the level in it too high. I will suggest to buy the book only if u have programmed before in any other high-level language. Those students from my course who had experience found the book very interesting and thought that it went into good detail unlike maybe other scheme books.
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on 4 January 2015
Not had much chance to read it yet but seems good for me
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on 29 June 1999
I'm assuming this book is intended for beginners, since those who are advanced will only be wasting their time reading this childish text.
If you're a beginner, starting to learn programming by reading this book is like discussing the next major physics theory without know any physics. You'll learn to philosophize and throw around grand but meaningless ideas. Starting with C and machine organization books (i.e. assembler) is a better way. You'll learn the internals first, find out what's behind programming. You'll know how procedures are actually called, and what some of the issues are. Than you can read books like these. In fact, towards the end of chapter 4, the authors themselves admit that their simplistic view of computers and languages is severely deficient if they want to descirbe things properly, so in ch.5 they introduce register machines (i.e..they teach you abou how CPUs work). Beginners learning from this text is akin to space scientits planning a complex trajectory, and than getting down to learn basic Newtonian mechanics. No wonder so many beginners I've talked with complained. They couldn't understand what all of this encapsulation meant, since they had no idea of the basic underlying process--simple pushes onto a stack and jmp instructions.
Aside from the book's wrong approach, it's also terribly written. I tired to like it, but books can only be so boring before you start to feel aversion towards it.
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on 25 June 1999
I liked some of the ideas in this book, but I later realized they were not presented by the author, but where merely good features of Lisp. After reading this book, I haven't learned all that much, and whatever I did learn, was a long and boring process. Regardless of subject matter, books *can not* be this inconsiderate of the reader. The author should show some enthusiasm and present the topics clearly. Instead, I found a haphazardly organized book with rushed discussion. Some interesting ideas were mentioned in passing, and instead, the boring drivel was dwelled on, sometimes for 20 pages. I often fell asleep after reading this book for 5 minutes. Lisp is worth learning, it's an interesting langauage, but don't learn it from this book. Read the book by Dybvig and Dybbig, for example.
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on 13 April 1999
I was hoping, based on the comments of some people, that this book would be somewhat of a bible for programming...they said it's the best book of programming ever written. I was quite disappointed. One of three things usually happened when I read about a new topic in this text:
1. I already knew some things this book talks about. They are, in fact, fairly obvious, like abstraction.
2. The idea was fairly interesting, but it wasn't possible to implement it outside of Scheme. In other words, this idea became useless.
3. Some things were just a pointless waste of time. Purely philosophical discussions.
In short, this book told me nothing new. A huge disappointment. I don't understand what these people see in it.
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