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The C Programming Language

4.41  ·  Rating details ·  8,074 ratings  ·  371 reviews
This book is meant to help the reader learn how to program in C. It is the definitive reference guide, now in a second edition. Although the first edition was written in 1978, it continues to be a worldwide best-seller. This second edition brings the classic original up to date to include the ANSI standard.

From the Preface:
We have tried to retain the brevity of the fir
Paperback, Second Edition, 288 pages
Published April 1st 1988 by Prentice Hall (first published 1978)
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JManInPhoenix The books below have been helpful to me:
"C by Example" Noel Kalicharan
"Pointers on C" Kenneth Reek
"C Primer Plus" Stephen Prata
"Understanding and…more
The books below have been helpful to me:
"C by Example" Noel Kalicharan
"Pointers on C" Kenneth Reek
"C Primer Plus" Stephen Prata
"Understanding and Using C Pointers" Richard Reese


Community Reviews

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4.41  · 
Rating details
 ·  8,074 ratings  ·  371 reviews

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Nick Black
Dec 07, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Nick by: Jim Greenlee
Found myself rereading this the other day, after recommending Chapter 8 to a young engineer seeking the Truth behind malloc(3)...still as fresh as the day it was printed, although I do note minor failings now (ubiquitous definitions of "MAXLINE" to 1000 rather than idiomatic use of ANSI/ISO's BUFSIZ, rather more use of "register" than I care to see in peacetime, etc). Also, when are we getting an update for C99? I'd like to see more people making proper use of <stdint.h> than is today typi ...more
Manuel Antão
Oct 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 1985, 2011
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

RIP Ritchie (1941-2011): "The C Programming Language" by Kernighan and Ritchie

//Cenesis, chapter 1
int main()
puts("In the beginning, when Ritchie created the Unix and the C");
puts("and the UNIX was without form or shape, with darkness over the abyss and a mighty wind sweeping over the waters");
puts("Then Riche said: hello, world, and there was code");
puts("Riche saw that the code was good. Ritchie then separated the code fr
Feb 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science
If you're a geek, you have to prostrate yourself in the direction of Bell Labs whenever this book is mentioned. I'm not really a geek, so it's optional.

Well, perhaps I'd better do it anyway. Just in case.

Michael Finocchiaro
For evolution of the planet earth and our modern understanding of biology, there was Darwin's Origin of the Species. For mathematics, there was Newton's Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica. Well, for the internet, for Facebook, for LinkedIn, Twitter, Instgram, Snapchat, WhatsApp, Pornhub amd even the odious website for Justin Bieber would never have existed without Kernigan and Ritchie (more affectionately known as K&R)'s classic, The C Programming Language. What language was TCP/IP ...more
Feb 04, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: technology
Certainly a book hyped by many folks, calling it the to read when learning C.

Well, in reality it's just that, hyped. There is no objective reason why this book is a must-read or good at all. Sure, it does cover the important aspects of C, but it's very shallow, never going into details. As such, it's as good as every "Learning $language in $small_amount days".
P Doerr lulz
Mar 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Excellent A+++++++ Would read again!
The C Programming Language is THE VERY BEST way to learn the C programming language. Starting with the basic "Hello World" program, this book covers everything (of course, as the official guide to the language this is expected). As any programmer worth his salt will tell you, C is one of the most useful languages, and at least basic knowledge is mandatory.
Dec 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I read this years ago when I was first taking C. I don't have this edition, but an earlier one. After wading through several other books, I kept coming back to this one as a reference while programming. It is deceptively short & sweet. Re-reads constantly found me more avenues to explore using their basics.

I gave a copy to my son & he came to the same conclusion. While other, larger, & more specific books come & go as C evolves, this basic work is a must for any serious programme
Jeffrey Rubard
Aug 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
You Say You Want to Learn to Program, Well, You've Got to Read This Book...

The C Programming Language (1978, rev. 1988) is rather totally the most important book ever written about computer science. As the language's name "C" indicates it was not the first language to include block form (that was Algol, a "committee" prototype language never used extensively in industry) and modern control structures, but its centrality and ubiquity in programming projects up to the present day has meant that on
Jun 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Ok dudes, this is THE book. If you want to know how to program in C, the once and future language of all computing, you must buy this book.

EFF this C#, CLI, J#, VB, and all those other abominational languages that are trying to kill good programming skills. If you want to learn how to really program you need to DO this book.

You don't read this book, you DO it! Thought I made a typo, huh? As a general rule, shorter books are better than those SAMS-type 1000 page tomes, teach you more, and are har
Roy Vanegas
Apr 16, 2009 rated it did not like it
Regardless of the fact that the architect of the language is a co-author, this book is simply not a good book on discussing the intricacies of C, a language replete with low-level details defining its behavior.

Everything, including a discussion on sequence points and side effects, among other topics, is included in Peter Prinz's and Tony Crawford's C in a Nutshell, which is masterful in its coverage of the language. Combine C in a Nutshell with Summit's C Programming FAQs and you have the entire
Aug 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: computer-science
I can't say I learned how to program C using this book -- that distinction goes to the long-forgotten Microsoft Quick C for Windows manuals and a reference manual put out by the Waite Group. I can't even say that I need to consult this very often anymore, although it will quickly clear up any questions you might have about arrays of pointers to unions of structs.

This book is the ideal presentation of a language. (When was the last time you saw both the grammar and standard library of a language
Darshana Unnikrishnan
The book is missing many important parts of the subject. Also the explanations are not so good. Not suitable for someone who wants to learn the subject from scratch. May be an experienced professional might be able to benefit from the book better.

As for me I was just trying brush up the knowledge I had about this subject but didn't find the book that useful.
Kyusik Chung
Mar 17, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Truly the C Bible

If only all programming books were this succinct and to the point...
Jul 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Oldschool but still relevant, just as the language. It's not a thick book, compared to the four times heavier C++ Primer and that's exactly how I feel about both languages. The C Prog. lang. does a fine job at explaining the key components of the C language using rudimentary code - and I like that, because that's what you'll encounter in the C world. The quicksort implementation using pointers for example. There's not much to say: it's a great introduction and reference, although learning C can ...more
Joe Cole
Jan 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Yet despite this, I believe there are alternative books which would have made the learning experience at first much easier.

If you have zero experience with programming or C in general, C Programming Absolute Beginner's Guide by Greg Perry and Dean Miller would be the best place to start. It does not get any simpler than this and the book is written with this in mind.
Juxhin Deliu
Utile per chi vuole immergersi nel linguaggio di programmazione più comune, pur richiedendo delle basi di informatica non indifferenti. Dal mio canto, è stato utile come ripasso per l'essenziale del C.
Jan 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction

** Pointers - how I miss thee...
Fahad Naeem
Jan 30, 2015 rated it liked it
In The C Programming Language, Brian went through from basics to advanced structures of C Programming language including data types to pointers. He also discussed some variants of programming in C on Linux.

1. He used excessive amounts of Preprocessor Macros in his codes which make code readable and easily understood.
2. His explanation of structures is of advanced level (which is a requirement).
3. File handling is also explained properly and extensively with the help of advanced level co
Stefan Kanev
Dec 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is a great book, definitely worth reading.

It's not my first pass through it, but I still learned new stuff. It covers the language well, although it does not go into as much depth as I would like. It does not cover the practical aspects of system programming either.

The best thing about this book is the brevity. Everything is explained clearly and with as little text as possible. It might not be the best first book for C, but it is definitely a great second one.

Finally, this book is old. C h
Oct 25, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book (together with Kochan) helped me learn C, which quickly became my favorite programming language and remained so for many years. Contains the original 'hello, world' program which has been copied ad nauseum ever since. I know the authors released a second edition but I never looked at it, the first one was fine. I suspect the main reason for the second edition was to replace the classic K&R syntax with the ANSI standard.
Ettore Pasquini
Oct 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: software engineers
Recommended to Ettore by: CS101 professor
Shelves: technology
Any software (hell, even hardware) engineer has hopefully heard about this book. If you don't own it, buy it right now! You won't find a single engineer on Earth telling you this is something less that awesome. This book achieves the perfect balance between terseness and exhaustiveness.

Computer Science book writers and publishers: can we go back to a writing style where computer books are in the 150 - 200 pages range, instead of the regular 600 - 900? Come on.
Sep 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
One of the things that I like about the C programming language is that it is very small and simple to learn. This book is correspondingly small, yet it is comprehensive.

I already knew some C when I read this book, but reading this book gave me an appetite for understanding more about how compilers work and about the theory and design of programming languages.
Sep 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
Reading this again, I'm finding that a lot of the coding style and practices are outdated, but it's still a good foundation for programming, and the C language in general is a good starting point if you want to work with native apps.
Sep 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A classic. If you want to learn how to program, start here.
Dec 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a really good introduction to C programming language with clear and concise explanations.
Mehdy Khoshnoody
Jan 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: computer
it's a little bit more than just C! it taught me about computer
Sleeping with Ghosts
May 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
A hard and a bit difficult programming language.
Feb 01, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My very first computer programming book. Welcome to programming, here's C.
Ulas Tuerkmen
Oct 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Here are the reasons why this book should be required reading for all programmers

(1) First of all, this book is written in an incredibly clear and elegant style. There is rarely a sentence one has to read twice, all explanations are exactly at the right level of detail, and the code examples are perfectly trimmed for the current topic. At the beginning of the book, K&R write that they wanted C to be a language that the developer can fit in his head. This is a very worthy objective for a lang
Wes Smith
May 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
I read (most of) this book as an introduction to the C Programming language for a college course. While I certainly don't disagree with the designation of this book as a "classic," I would recommend the new guy to the C club in 2017 or later look somewhere else. While C, the language, hasn't changed too terribly much since the 2nd edition was published in 1988, I believe that the way in which we use C has changed. I also didn't really care to hear much about what changed between pre-standard C a ...more
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Brian Wilson Kernighan is a computer scientist who worked at Bell Labs alongside Unix creators Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie and contributed greatly to Unix and its school of thought.
“C is not a big language, and it is not well served by a big book.” 1 likes
“Nevertheless, C retains the basic philosophy that programmers know what they are doing; it only requires that they state their intentions explicitly.” 0 likes
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