Synopses & Reviews
Most people are baffled by how computers work and assume that they will never understand them. What they don’t realize—and what Daniel Hillis’s short book brilliantly demonstrates—is that computers’ seemingly complex operations can be broken down into a few simple parts that perform the same simple procedures over and over again. Computer wizard Hillis offers an easy-to-follow explanation of how data is processed that makes the operations of a computer seem as straightforward as those of a bicycle.Avoiding technobabble or discussions of advanced hardware, the lucid explanations and colorful anecdotes in The Pattern on the Stone go straight to the heart of what computers really do. Hillis proceeds from an outline of basic logic to clear descriptions of programming languages, algorithms, and memory. He then takes readers in simple steps up to the most exciting developments in computing today—quantum computing, parallel computing, neural networks, and self-organizing systems.Written clearly and succinctly by one of the world’s leading computer scientists, The Pattern on the Stone is an indispensable guide to understanding the workings of that most ubiquitous and important of machines: the computer.
Most people are baffled by how computers work and assume any understanding of them is beyond their grasp. What they don't realize is that the computer's complex operations can be broken down into a few simple parts performing simple procedures over and over. In this welcome volume, computer wizard Daniel Hillis offers an easy-to-follow clarification of data processing that makes the computer seem as basic as a bicycle.
Avoiding technobabble or discussion of advanced hardware, the book's lucid explanations and colorful anecdotes get right down to what computers are really about. Hillis proceeds from a rundown of basic logic to clear descriptions of what programming languages, algorithms, and memory are. Then he takes readers in easy steps up to the most exciting developments in computing today -- quantum computing, parallel computing, neural networks, and self-organizing systems.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 155) and index.
Table of Contents
Nuts and bolts -- Universal building blocks -- Programming -- How universal are Turing Machines? -- Algorithms and heuristics -- Memory: information and secret codes -- Speed: parallel computers -- Computers that learn and adapt -- Beyond engineering.