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on 22 March 2017
For some reason, this is the big name when high school students or other beginners ask for recommended computer science reading. It is absolutely nonsensical to say that this is a book for beginners. Anyone who says that is so far advanced in the field of computing they've forgotten what a beginner is. I was told to read this a few years ago when I graduated high school as it would be impressive to tell universities about it. I believe I am at least of average intelligence and don't struggle to grasp new concepts, but this is an impossibly inaccessible book for a beginner. It takes very little time explaining things that are assumed as basic knowledge, and very quickly devolves into masses of indecipherable symbols.

Now that I've finished a computer science university degree, I can say that I'd have a somewhat easier time reading this, but would still find it incredibly dense and difficult to understand every detail.

Oh, and of course it does absolutely nothing to make the field of computer science feel interesting, which is an obvious prerequisite for a beginner's book.

2 stars because it is impressively detailed and wide ranging, and I'm sure it's enjoyable reading for some theoretical computer scientists who want the field summarised in one book. But if you're a true beginner interested in computers, 0 stars - avoid like the plague.
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on 13 September 2013
Excellent book for beginners.A must for all aspiring computer science students.A must read as a preparation for interviews and personal statement.
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on 27 March 2002
This volume is a must for any student or researcher in computing or computability. It leads the reader carefully through some of the more complex and often difficult to understand aspects of computing, otherwise only addressed in the domain of academia and higher order mathematics. Real world parallels are drawn, which will be most appreciated, by the diserning reader.
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on 21 July 1999
This book provides an excellent overview (or review) of theoretical Computer Science. If there are any of you who think that the high end of computer science is another form of mathematics, then this book is for you. If you think that computer science is just programming then maybe you should take a look at this book as well. After reading this book you will have a good overview of the "science" of computer science. I find too often that most of the undergraduate books in computer science tend to focus on the software engineering side of the field. When you finish this book, you will have been exposed to everything from genetic algorithms to Godel's theorem. The book covers advanced topics such as natural language thoery, but still introduces them on an introductory level. This book is still a little tough for those who have only studied programming. However, any computer scince major (or someone with the equivelent exposure to CS) would find this book to be an excellent reference and review of the things he (or she) would have missed or forgotten in their studies. Incidently, the book presents problems (no solutions, what's new) and refrences at the end of each chapter for further study.
The bottom line is this: This book is the closest thing to a hybrid textbook/encylcopedia of computer science. It covers almost every imaginable topic in computer science and should be on every CS major's bookshelf.
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on 23 June 2011
I purchased this book to get insight into what computer science is, learn about the basis of how it works and how its used in real life.

I have really enjoyed reading this book, It helped me to understand basics of computer science and includes many interesting logical arguments. I would recommond this book, to any one who have interest in computer science.
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on 3 October 2000
I bought this book as it was recommended by one of my Computer Science lectureres, but I definitely won't be selling it at the end of the year like most of my others. It covers a huge range of topics in great detail, and serves as a useful reference guide as well as something to read on the way home from university. My only critism is that it sometimes gets too technical for the average undergraduate, but I still think it's a very worthy purchase.
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on 2 May 2015
I read this book cover to cover in one evening. It's such a fun read and introduced so many concepts. I enjoyed one of the chapters about Busy Beaver Problem so much that I spent a few days implementing Busy Beaver in several languages and wrote a program that visualizes how the Beaver travels on the tape: http://www.catonmat.net/blog/busy-beaver/

This book is a must read for anyone interested in computers. This excellent book contains 66 short essays on the most important and interesting computing topics, such as compression, Turing machines, recursion, formal grammars, non-computable functions, neural networks and algorithms. The writing style of this book is casual and it contains almost no math. It's my favorite book of all time.

I've rated this book #1 in my Top 100 Programming, Computer and Science book list:

http://www.catonmat.net/blog/top-100-books-part-one/

.
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on 2 October 2014
Very good book which covers many areas in Computer Science. It's very clear and easy to understand with a friendly tone which makes it more enjoyable to read. There are lots of diagrams and examples too.

The only reason I'm not giving this 5 stars is because I'm a complete beginner to Computer Science and sometimes the exercises which follow each chapter seem to be a leap from the surrounding text. The book does say in it's preface that it is suitable for beginners but I think you may need some underlying knowledge (or maybe even another source to accompany this) if you are new to the subject and want to get the most out of this book.

It is however incredibly comprehensive and once I start my course at university I'm sure it will become invaluable.
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VINE VOICEon 17 March 2003
This book is a very good introduction to the various disciplines of computer science. The articles are well written and I can certainly recommend this title to any undergrad student to gain basic knowledge of advanced computer science topics.
I would rate it 5 stars if it were a little more up-to-date though. Certain articles and results have really become outdated with current research.
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on 29 September 1998
An enjoyable read for those with some Computer Science or Engineering background. Overviews of 66 different topics in C.S. theory and practice, categorized into 11 general areas. Provides very accessible, intuitive explanations on these foundational topics, with an emphasis on how the theoretical topics relate to practical applications. Nice survey/review of the broad field of Computer Science for the computer professional, as well.
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