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Out of Their Minds: The Lives and Discoveries of 15 Great Computer Scientists

3.77  ·  Rating Details  ·  113 Ratings  ·  12 Reviews
Imagine living during the Renaissance and being able to interview that era's greatest scientists about their inspirations, discoveries, and personal interest. The latter half of our century has seen its own Renaissance - informations technology has changed irrevocable the way we live, work, and think about the world. We are fortunate, therefore, that the authors of Out of ...more
Hardcover, 291 pages
Published September 14th 1995 by Springer (first published 1995)
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(showing 1-30 of 325)
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marilyn
Aug 05, 2008 marilyn marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Saw Prof. Shasha lecture on a few of the stories from this book and it was delightfully fascinating. Feynman-esque anecdotes about CS pioneers? Yes please.
Ilya
Dec 28, 2010 Ilya rated it really liked it
Shelves: computer-science
This is a well-written collection of short biographies of twelve computer scientists (Stephen Cook and Leonid Levin of computational complexity, Leslie Lamport of distributed systems, Edsger Dijkstra, Donald Knuth, Michael Rabin and Robert Tarjan of algorithmics, John Backus, Alan Kay and John McCarthy of programming languages, Edward Feigenbaum and Douglas Lenat of AI) and three hardware and software engineers (Frederick Brooks of OS/360, Cray cofounder Burton Smith, Daniel Hillis of Connection ...more
Kevin Jones
May 18, 2015 Kevin Jones rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As a freshly-minted college grad who studied Computer Science yet at times feels like he lacked the passion he once had for software, when I picked this book up and read it cover to cover, with its cast of fervent, eccentric characters, it was hard not to feel inspired and moved. Much of the ideas and science presented in the book was review for me, but the lives of those scientists and how the book expertly portrayed them had a great effect on me.
Don
Feb 04, 2009 Don rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: computer-science
Covers the heros of computer science: Dijkstra, Lenat, Alan Kay, and some lesser-known (but no less important) scientists. The book makes a noble attempt to thread their discoveries and work together in a timeline leading up to the present, but unfortunately some of the biographies were just too dry and I ended up skimming through a few. But the book also makes a decent attempt at covering the technical details of their work (NP-completeness, search algorithms, memory latency) and its in this as ...more
Christian
Apr 23, 2014 Christian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
My education in Computer Science never really offered a glimpse into the lives of those that discovered what I was studying. This book was a nice introduction to the lives of those who've changed the field.

The book presents the lives and contributions of a few important Computer Scientists concisely while still being entertaining. It goes over who the person was, a bit of context about his live, and why his contributions were important. It gives you just information to peek your interest.

I also
...more
Doug
Jan 18, 2014 Doug rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: computer-science
A nice overview of Computer Science discoveries found by living computer scientists: Knuth, Dijkstra, Backus, etc., My main complaint is that all the heavy concepts it goes into, such as P=NP, or even the shortest-path algorithm, are better explained elsewhere. I'ts a quick and dirty overview, not something you can really learn a lot from if you have a background in the topic. I found the glossary at the end as informative as the book.
Kai Günster
Feb 06, 2015 Kai Günster rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biographical
An excellent book. It deals with subjects of computer science, but it really is a collection of short biographies, revealing the kind of person that goes and explores new scientific territory. As such, it's very interesting for non-computer-scientists as well, although they will get more out of it.
David
Jan 23, 2009 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2003
I love reading about great computer scientists. Even more about great logical leaps and "a-ha!" moments. This book was entertaining, but simply did not have the kind of depth and true understanding I would have hoped for.
Tommy /|\
Oct 22, 2013 Tommy /|\ rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A little heavy on mathematical theory and concepts for my taste - but its an excellent overview of some of the early giants in the history of the computing field.
Jason
Feb 17, 2009 Jason rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Required reading in a computer science class during university. A good introduction to some of the great minds that helped develop the practice of computer science.
Ariel Burbaickij
in parts nice, in parts too shallow, some parts like Levin's solution to Kolmogorov's puzzle or Bakery Algorithm are written in confusing and unclear style
Varun
Nov 18, 2013 Varun rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: technology
All the stories are motivating and book is a light read. It is a must read if love technology.
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