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In my case, Thinking in Systems: A Primer. Half way through the book and already deep concepts sinking in.

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      I recently ordered a paper copy of 10 PRINT CHR$(205.5+RND(1)); : GOTO 10 Which I am looking forward to starting when it arrives.


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      I just finished Seveneves by Stephenson. I enjoyed it but I enjoy the long universe building he does. I am reading The Use of Weapons by Iian Banks now, the third book in The Culture Series.

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          I read the first two in the series and I really really loved the universe and ideas but unfortunately I just could not get past the writing, which made me really sad. There was like a good 200 page book buried in each of his 700 page books, I thought.

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            I had the same experience - Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days is better as it’s the 200 page book it should be. I also found his more detective-y ones (Century Rain and The Prefect) felt better (which is not necessarily to say good, I’m not too fussy about writing).

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              For sci-fi detective novels, I really enjoyed Altered Carbon. The sequels were not nearly as good, though.

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                I stuck with it and liked the rest of that series, though Altered Carbon is probably the best. Market Forces was a bit less good, and the less said about his fantasy effort the better, IMO.

                My absolute favourite sorta-sci-fi detective story is China Miéville’s The City & ┴ɥǝ Ɔᴉʇʎ.

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                  Nice, thanks. I’ll add to my list!

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        If you like the Culture series I’d very much recommend the later works of Neal Asher’s Polity series, particularly Hilldiggers.

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          Ohh thanks! I’ll check it out.

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      Types and Programming Languages

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        If you get the chance, the cousin book (Advanced Topics in Types and Programming Languages) is really good. A bunch of short surveys of some really cool areas of PL, sort of like type theory-tapas.

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          Thanks! I’ll add it to the list…

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          From the same author: Software Foundations. Learning Coq has been like forever in my to-do bag, and I’m certain this text is definitely worth its salt.

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        In addition to agreeing with jozefg about ATTPL, Harper’s Practical Foundations of Programming Languages is good to read after or as you read TAPL.

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      I like reading a few things at a time

      • Stuart Allen’s thesis on computational type theory (theory behind Nuprl)
      • Bob Harper’s thesis on a similar subject (type theory with computation first)
      • Lots of stuff on logical relations for imperative languages. Mostly work by Dreyer and Birkedal
      • The New Penguin Russian Course (Human languages are fun too)

      I links to the papers above if people are interested :)

      PS: I like the idea of this thread, always good to find new reading material :D

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      can you tell us what good stuff is sinking in after reading that?

      i’m reading “artificial intelligence and creativity”, edited by Terry Dartnall from springer

      it’s nice. similar ideas to those found in “i am a strange loop” by douglas hoftstaedter (really worth a read)

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        The author starts describing the structure of a system, which in its basic form is composed of stocks and flows. Stocks are those elements that you can measure; it’s just a quantity: the amount of worldwide oil reserves, the temperature of a room, you name it. A flow is something that makes a stock bigger (inflow) or smaller (outflow). A fairly important concept is that of dynamic equilibrium: you can have competing inflows and outflows with the net effect of the stock being kept at a fixed level. Imagine a dam during a flood, the inflow of water could equal that of the water leaving the dam through the open gates. The water level in the dam (the stock) does not change, the system is kept in a dynamic equilibrium.

        Another concept is that of delay, since flows take time to flow, acting as buffers of a system. Your bank account (stock) allows you to spend money (outflow) at a pace different from how you earn it (inflow). This was certainly profound to me.

        And what happens when changes in a stock changes in turn the inflow and outflows of that stock? You have feedback loops, you must be familiarized with those, having read Hofstadter :). Actually, the author mentions two types: balancing feedback loops and reinforcing feedback loops. The former, also called goal-seeking loops, fight to keep the stock at a certain level. The latter, they are the source of exponential growth or decay. You can have a myriad of combinations of all these types of flows and you get to visualize really funny patterns over time. Reinforcing loops are always accompanied by balancing loops, because no physical system can grow forever in a finite universe. D'oh!

        Insightful was also to learn that when people study the dynamics of a system, the goal is not to predict what will occur, but to look into how the system would behave when conditions change.

        As I mentioned, I’m only half way through the book, and at this point I think my comment qualifies as a spoiler :/

        To wrap it up, just say that all these properties and whatnot stem from the definition of the structure of systems -entangled stocks + flows- given at the beginning of the book. Fascinating to me.

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      I’m reading Release It!

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        I’ve read some reviews on Amazon and they sound positive, but I can’t get a sense for what’s actually in the book. Have you found it useful? What does it actually cover?

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          It’s definitely insightful. The book goes through a lot of the things can go wrong with your code when you deploy it in a production environment. It also covers some of the patterns that help you avoid those problems. Definitely wish I read it a year ago :)

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      Rereading Player Piano after being reminded of it in recent conversations about automation and its effects.

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      I’m reading The Princeton Companion to Mathematics to brush up on my math. It has been really easy to read so far.

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        What’s your estimation for reading it cover-to-cover?

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          Well, I imagine it gets tougher. I saw someone say they read it in 1.5 years, so that’s my target. It is a thousand pages!

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      Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future

      It’s good! I spend too much time reading blog posts and not enough time reading books, sadly.

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        I almost purchased that the other night on Amazon - What are your thought so far?

        Currently working my way through Big Data Driven Business

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      One is just practical – “Pro AngularJS”. Been teaching myself Angular to help out on our dashboard project.

      The other is more interesting / theoretical. It’s “Specifying Systems”. I didn’t think I’d ever crack open a book that suggests that we formally verify and prove the correctness of our code before writing and debugging our code, but it’s by Leslie Lamport, the Turing Award winner.

      I was pointed in that direction by his excellent talk on “Thinking Above The Code”. He makes the point that writing a truly good spec for software is something that you need to practice, just like coding itself. And he thinks that in distributed/concurrent systems, we have no choice but to specify a bit ahead of time, because the systems are complex and interactions subtle, so they demand it.

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      I’m slowly working my way through Types and Programming Languages. It stands out by actually including answers for almost all of the exercises, making it worthwhile to work through them, which makes it a slow but fulfilling read.

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        I’m starting this week :)

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        Why is it that most texts, specifically self-paced math textbooks, don’t include solutions for all exercises? It’s overly pesky.

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          Because in some sense that’s just the way it is with mathematics. Eventually the only arbiter for a correct answer is your own intuition and your ability to convince others… so at some point in mathematical literature they start to assume that’s where your answer key will be sourced from.

          Don’t feel confident about a proof you wrote?

          Well, why? Maybe we’ve all got some (re)thinking to do

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            That’s a bit extreme. For the vast majority of mortals, having access to the solutions is of an enormous help in guiding the self-study. Anyway, I’m not convinced with your answer, since lots of math books include answers to some portion of them (usually even/odd-numbered ones). Why?

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              Oh, I agree that they’re helpful—and this is also why they’re included. But they’re also a lot of work to build and kind of a crutch.

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      I am (and have been for the past few weeks) still working through Infinite Jest. I’ve been enjoying it for the most part; though there have definitely been some parts I’ve had to slog through.

      I’ve wanted to start reading some more educational material, particularly around PL and compilers, but I’ve been a little daunted by the idea of reading it in parallel with IJ. Suggestions and what and how to read would be appreciated!

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        I’ve heard only good things about Let’s Build a Compiler. Anyone with further good things about it to share with us?

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          Thanks for the reference, although I’m looking for something a couple steps beyond that as I’m already familiar with type theory and basic compiler implementation.

          And good things about IJ? It’s an unprecedented and fascinating look into addiction, depression, and American views on these topics. Those are just the central themes (I’d say, anyway), and the author has much more to say along the way.

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        I’ve read the Dragon Book (Compilers: Principles, Techniques, and Tools, Aho et al.) at the time. It’s quite good (considered the seminal text on these matters), though if you’re already familiar with the basics, I don’t know if it’ll help you much.

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        I’d had it preordered, and it showed up on my Kindle last night. Haven’t read any of the author’s other books, so I’m not really sure what to expect.

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      Dennett’s Elements of Intuitionism has been taking my subway reading time for a while. Additionally, Vicker’s Topology Via Logic although at the moment I’m in the middle of being confused by Vickers' notation… thus Dennett is winning my attention.

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      Just My Type

      I’ve been kind of interested in typography for ages, and this book has been a really approachable way of getting into it. Rather than a dry coverage of the craft, it tells the stories of fonts, their creators, and the feelings they invoke when they’re used.

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      Just finished Masterminds of Programming which I thoroughly enjoyed, there’s a lot of insight and a huge amount of diversity in thought re: language designers.

      I’ve just started 33 1/3: Koji Kondo’s Super Mario Brothers Soundtrack as well.

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      Nexus by Ramez Naam is a ripping trans/post human sci fi thriller. I’m reading sequel ‘Crux’, also good.

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      Currently parallel reading “Economics: A user’s guide” when I’ve spare brain capacity with Tanya Huff’s “Valor’s Choice” when I don’t. Recommend the first fairly unilaterally, the latter if you like fluffy military scifi.

      When I’ve finished the economics book, I’ll probably be moving on to “Software Abstractions: Logic, Language and Analysis” or “Growing Objected Oriented Software Guided By Tests”. The former is more interesting to me but the latter is probably more useful for me to read professionally (mostly because I want to know other peoples' thinking on the subject). We’ll see which happens. :-)

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      “Thinking is Sytems” is on my reading list. From my ad-hoc reading, I find it the whole thing fascinating. Here’s a neat little book I found online on the same – Introduction to Cybernetics.

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      I just finished Programming Elixir by Dave Thomas, which is really week written. Also reading Understanding Computation by Tom Stuart for http://csbookclub.com.

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      Finishing up Valentino Braitenberg’s Vehicles: Experiments in Synthetic Psychology.

    22. 1

      I just finished Among Heroes and Darknet, both of which I enjoyed. This week I am reading How to Catch a Russian Spy and a print copy of On Lisp.

    23. 1

      Concepts Techniques and Models of Computer Programming. Gearing up for grad school in September, I read half of this last summer, going to finish it because I hate unfinished books.

      Non-tech books? Just read skyfaring, which I liked but others have found pretentious. Loved Turing’s Cathedral by Dyson, and Down to the sea in ships by Horatio Clare was also great. Last fiction book I read was Station Eleven, also recommended. :D

    24. 1

      Masters of Mankind - Essays and Lectures Noam Chomsky. Brilliant! My first encounter with his work outside of CS, eyeing a few of his books next (open to suggestions here). Because that’s a bit dense for summer reading, I’ve been cutting it with Terry Pratchett, very fun

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      Reading through the Culture series by Iain Banks, Normal Accidents, and slowly working my way through some Dover books on variational calculus and linear algebra. I’ve got a lot of books on queue right now, too.

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      It’ll be be far more than a week, but I’m currently working my way through Computer Systems, a Programmers Perspective, trying to improve my low level knowledge since I spend most of my time in high level languages. http://www.amazon.com/Computer-Systems-Programmers-Perspective-Edition/dp/0136108040. I’m reading the third edition but htat one has all the reviews.

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      Currently reading The design and Implementation of the Anykernel and Rump kernels by Antti Kantee because the rump kernels took my attention for deploying bare minimal systems.

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      Earth by David Brin. It’s amazing that he wrote a novel about the world seriously affected by climate change and biodiversity loss in 1990. It’s also impressive that his version of the future imagined back then seems really quite normal now (aside from the ozone layer issues). Really good book.

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        Maybe I should have entitled the post: ‘If you’re reading a book this week, then tell us about it! If you’re reading none, then no need to share the fact with us. Thank you.’.

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      The Linux Programming Interface [Kerrisk]

      Systems Performance: Enterprise and the Cloud [Brendan Gregg]

      Plus browsing a few kernel books on and off to aid in a project filesystem I’m hacking on.

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      I’ve been a bit obsessed with the Traveling Salesman lately, and have found an awesome book on it - “In Pursuit of the Traveling Salesman: Mathematics at the Limits of Computation” by William J. Cook. Starts off with the history of the problem and the story behind people attacking it, explaining their tactics etc. It’s a really fun read and nothing really that technical. Would recommend again A+++

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      When God was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman. Recommended to me a while ago, finally picked it up yesterday. It’s … extremely well written & easy to read, but equally odd at the same time. Enjoyable though.

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      Ordered this one to read with my 9 y/o: JavaScript for Kids: A Playful Introduction to Programming

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      The Devil in the White City

      A non-fiction book about America’s “first serial killer” during the 1893 Chicago World’s fair. Research for the novel I’m currently writing. :-)

      Guardian from the Lost Fleet: Beyond the Frontier series

      There’s not a lot of character development in these books, but the strategy and tactics employed by the military actually make sense for sublight relativistic space battles. Time dilation, information delay due to the speed of light, etc. are all taken into account and set up very interesting puzzles.

      Laudato si'

      Pope Francis’s “green encyclical” on care for the environment.

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      I finished The Executioness yesterday. It was… not very good. The Windup Girl’s universe is so much more interesting; I’m still going to try The Water Knife, but full of apprehension now.

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      Some fiction for the moment: Pandora’s Star