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on 4 December 2001
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.
50 people found this helpful
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on 3 May 2000
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.
37 people found this helpful
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on 30 November 1998
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.
3 people found this helpful
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on 9 December 1998
As a sophomore at MIT, I took 6.001, the class from which this book sprang. I wish I could say this book was a great beginner's text -- but it is most assuredly NOT. It is REALLY BLOODY DEEP and you must take it a step at a time. But when all is said and done, you'll find that it has covered a VAST amount of material.
Don't think of this as a LANGUAGE book -- it's NOT. It's a LINGUISTICS book for programmers; that is, it will teach you theory and methodology, and let you nick off and learn Java on your own (which couldn't hurt). The book is aimed at MIT students; you should know that their problem sets are traditionally among the nastiest to be found. Even the exercises in the book sometimes call for the reader to stretch his or her mind in a brand new way; but there is no better way to learn.
Other than taking 6.001 itself, of course...
6 people found this helpful
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on 25 June 1998
This is known as "The Wizard Book" -- and for good reason. This book is lucid, clearly explained, and has a greater density of profound ideas per page than any other textbook I have ever seen. There is no other text which clearly presents so much of the foundations of computer science. Doing it in one semester is a frantic pace -- but it's well worth spending two or even three semesters covering it well.
However, college studies aside, as a professional you will want to own this book and reread it from time to time. The stuff in it will strike sparks off the things you've been doing elsewhere and give you new ideas and perspectives -- routinely.
This is an extremely valuable book to own. I've recently gotten a new copy just because mine was getting worn out -- and it didn't wear out with light use....
4 people found this helpful
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on 22 June 1999
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.
9 people found this helpful
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on 26 July 1999
SICP is a book not only teach beginning programming, but to show experienced programmers that there are always "other ways to do things." This magical blue book might include confusing explanations but the lessons,algorithims,and thinking skills learned from Abelson's and Sussman's discussions on abstarction are applicable beyond programming to thought in general. Don't let its mathematical topics confuse you, think outside the box.
7 people found this helpful
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on 31 March 1999
This is it in the introduction to Computer Science (as opposed to programming par se). The book is wonderful, taking you from a seemingly obvious introduction of a concept to a very deep and complex discussion of thje hardest issues in computer sceince without the reader even realising!
I was amazed when this book was thrust on me, I just wish that someone had introduced it to me at an earlier age.
6 people found this helpful
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on 14 May 1997
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.
26 people found this helpful
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on 2 June 2013
After years of imperative programming in C, this book is mind-opening. The large lambda emblazoned on the cover should be an indication that this book is focused on understanding functional programming, rather than a "teach yourself X in 5 seconds" approach.
Well written and a great introduction to programming, both in Scheme and in general.
3 people found this helpful
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