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The Universal Computer: The Road from Leibniz to Turing
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The Universal Computer: The Road from Leibniz to Turing

4.13  ·  Rating Details ·  143 Ratings  ·  22 Reviews
Computers are everywhere today -- at work, in the bank, in artist's studios, sometimes even in our pockets -- yet they remain to many of us objects of irreducible mystery. How can today's computers perform such a bewildering variety of tasks if computing is just glorified arithmetic? The answer, as Martin Davis lucidly illustrates, lies in the fact that computers are essen ...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published October 17th 2000 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published October 2000)
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Maurizio Codogno
Il 2012 è stato il centenario della nascita di Alan Turing, e nell'occasione sono state pubblicate molte opere su di lui. Questo libro in realtà è del 2000, ma Martin Davis l'ha aggiornato in alcune parti, compreso un rapido accenno al programma di computer Watson che nel 2011 vinse una gara del quiz televisivo "Jeopardy", proprio per l'occasione.

L'approccio di Davis non è esattamente biografico, anche se il testo contiene varie brevi biografie da quella di Leibniz a quella di Turing; il filo co
...more
Steve
Jan 12, 2010 Steve rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: yes.
Recommended to Steve by: Logicomix
Martin Davis, a notable logician who work for (and with) very notable mathematicians and scientists, writes about the relationship amongst math, logic, and computation.

He surveys the lives and achievements of thinkers from Leibniz and Babbage to von Neumann and Turing and discusses what these ideas mean for modern computing.

The Universal Computer is a rather quick read, with the biographical content being particularly brisk, and there are points where some readers may like more detail, but this
...more
Peter Mcloughlin
This book is a fun book to read on the history and development of the idea behind the universal computer. It is not very deep in terms of the Mathematical ideas involved but it gives a flavor of the ideas. It is really good at profiling the colorful characters who developed these ideas and their often dramatic lives. A fun book to read and not very technical despite the title.
Dennis O'Brien
Jun 18, 2012 Dennis O'Brien rated it really liked it
This is an amazing book describing the history of computational logic and the mathematicians who made major contributions to the field that eventually led to the computer. Each chapter focuses on a single contributor, looking at his life and times as well as the radical breakthroughs made. Though the story stretches almost four hundred years, there is a feeling of continuity in the development of logic and it is really exciting to watch the culmination in the intellectual powerhouse of Alan Turi ...more
Blair
May 19, 2016 Blair rated it really liked it
I think the mathematical history behind the development of the computer is interesting, but not having much mathematical background makes is hard to find books on it that I can understand, but I found this book to be pleasantly accessible. It is structured chronologically, and follows the key players whose mathematical ideas allowed for the development of modern computers. I liked that it included bibliographic information and interesting anecdotes about the people as well. My only complaint is ...more
Paul Berg
Nov 22, 2008 Paul Berg is currently reading it
After reading "Cryptonomicon" and currently on "Quicksilver" by Neal Stephenson this book at the San Juan College library caught my eye. Martin Davis (who's PHD predates my birth by 8 years) follows the development of the ideas from Leibniz to Turing that lead to the universal computer. I credit Stephenson for sparking an interest in line of thought that is inherent in Crypto' and "The Baroque Cycle". What I found interesting, so far, is that Newton does not have a chapter in this book and is on ...more
Mike
Dec 23, 2010 Mike rated it it was amazing
Shelves: borrowed
A fascinating exposition of the factors leading to the development of the universal computer and its partial embodiments in today's computers. Martin Davis writes with a charm and directness that I cannot help but find engaging; he doesn't "talk down" to his readers, and the copious notes at the end of the book are, if anything, even more interesting than the main content itself. His focus on the role of Alan Turing is especially gratifying.

[My thanks to Graham Birtwistle for lending me his copy
...more
Javier Cano
Sep 18, 2013 Javier Cano rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The history not of computing, but the history of the general purpose computer. The storytelling is from the perspective of the minds that provided the ideas and principles behind such an amazing device, instead of a historical point of view. The author talk about the motivations of these seven characters which lead them to conceive such amazing ideas that converged in a general purpuse computer. The author also discusses philosophical issues and the consequences of these ideas.
Thore Husfeldt
Nov 03, 2012 Thore Husfeldt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A solid, lucid, focussed, well-structured, and highly readable exposition of the logical foundations of computation. From Leibniz’s dream of a rational and computable universe, via the logical formalisms of Boole and Frege and Hilbert’s program to heartbreak and catastrophe in the form of Gödel’s results. Until, like a mechanical Phoenix, the Turing machine rises from the ashes and transforms the world.

This book is a model of popular scientific writing.
Jim Mccormick
Jan 27, 2013 Jim Mccormick rated it it was amazing
Outstanding review of key personalities behind the development of logic. Interesting summary of the design of the earliest computers. Very reasonable perspective based on first-hand experience of mid-century computer developments. Objective presentation of divergent personal views of many of these great minds.
Jose Carlos
Nov 03, 2013 Jose Carlos rated it it was amazing
Sin duda, un libro que cualquiera que se dedique a la Ing. Informática debe leer. Aunque, por supuesto, lo recomiendo a cualquiera que tenga cierta curiosidad en el tema. Un viaje de tres siglos, en el que se muestra los pasos por los se pasó para llegar a la idea de la computadora universal.
Sarah
Dec 31, 2011 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: grownup
This book traces the developments and the lives of the people who made them, that advanced logic theory until it was fit for digital computers. Excellently written and easy to read, I was equally intrigued by the theory and by the diverse characters who created it.
Dragos
Mar 28, 2013 Dragos rated it it was amazing
Choosing to rate this book is an undecidable problem.
In this case it's a good thing that I'm only human.

To hyperbolize the spirit of the book:

'the author writes about all logicians who didn't write about themselves'

zedoul
Dec 28, 2013 zedoul rated it really liked it
I high recommend this book to understand theoretical basis of modern computer, especially for programmers. There are number of books about those subject, Gödel, Escher, and Bach / The Code / Logicomix for example, but this book is much easier to understand without any detours.
Peter Flom
Mar 14, 2013 Peter Flom rated it it was amazing
Shelves: math
A "pre-history" of the digital computer, covering the ideas that led up to its invention and some of the key participants in that development
Douglas Summers-Stay
Sep 26, 2014 Douglas Summers-Stay rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Another book I read as research for my book. His discussion of Leibniz was good from a computing perspective, as opposed to the language perspective that Umberto Eco had in his book.
Jehnie
May 28, 2010 Jehnie rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, academic
My brain may explode from the logic problems in the book, but it was really interesting. I'm glad I read it.
Philip
Sep 30, 2010 Philip rated it really liked it
a very fun, readable, and concise overview of the development of formal logic and its eventual implementation as the basis for computation...
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