Monday, May 28, 2007

Summer Reading List

I reckon it will be a busy summer this year. In addition to planning my wedding in August and participating in the Google Summer of Code, I have quite the extensive reading list. Of course, this is self inflicted, so I have nobody to blame but myself, but nonetheless, time is running out!

Feel free to tell me more about these books if you've read them, or others that cover similar topics.

Here are some of the books I will be tackling:

Scientific Dumbology: Gaffes, Foul-ups & Blunders
Robert Youngson
Scientific Dumbology is an investigative and humerous account of the errors into which seemingly infallible humans have fallen, giving a valuable perspective on the risks and benefits of scientific advance.
I picked up this book from the bargain bin at the local Indigo bookstore. I figured that since I thoroughly enjoyed A Short History of Nearly Everything, by Bill Bryson, I must like reading about the history of science.

I've read through a few chapters of this book already. It's no masterpiece, but I am still not sick of reading about the mess-ups necessary to scientific advancement. It is also a good reminder to look very critically at the "science" surrounding the hot topics of today's media, like global warming.

Visual Computing: Geometry, Graphics, and Vision
Frank Neilson
Visual Computing: Geometry, Graphics, and Vision is a concise introduction to common notions, methodologies, data structures, and algorithmic techniques arising in the mature fields of computer graphics, vision, and computational geometry. The central goal of the book is to provide a global and unified view of the rich interdisciplinary visual computing field.
A professor lent me this book last September, but I was too busy with school and extra curricular activities to sit down and read it. The topics covered pretty much describe the area I want to work in for my upcoming masters, so this is a must read for me.

After reading the first few chapters, I can say that the book isn't the best student text I've seen; there are several errors and the author makes too many assumptions. Still, it's a great survey into all the topics I want to work in but know little about.

Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid
Douglas R. Hofstadter
Twenty years after it topped the bestseller charts, Douglas R. Hofstadter's Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid is still something of a marvel. Besides being a profound and entertaining meditation on human thought and creativity, this book looks at the surprising points of contact between the music of Bach, the artwork of Escher, and the mathematics of Gödel. It also looks at the prospects for computers and artificial intelligence (AI) for mimicking human thought. For the general reader and the computer techie alike, this book still sets a standard for thinking about the future of computers and their relation to the way we think.
This one hardly needs any introduction. I actually first learned of it way back in my OAC (equivalent to grade 13) algebra and geometry class when my teacher somehow associated it to what we were learning. Intrigued, I bought it right away and got through a few chapters. I doubt I could have possibly fully understood it at the time, though the notions of strange loops probably helped when I first learned recursion later on. I soon ran out of time to finish reading the book.

It was a fellow Summer of Code participant that encouraged me to start reading this one again, though not directly. Brian Jorgensen has been guiding us through the book on his blog, Straight Up Coding. I'm already behind I suppose, but that's alright - I'm just glad that I'm rereading the book at all.

The Google Summer of Code Surprise Book
Author yet unknown, though he or she supposedly signed the book!

I should receive my surprise gift in the mail soon. According to those that already got theirs, the contents are somehow applicable to our three month code-a-thon that, incidentally, officially starts today.


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