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Computing for Ordinary Mortals

ISBN-10: 0199775303
ISBN-13: 9780199775309
Edition: 2013
Authors: Robert St. Amant
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Description: InComputing for Ordinary Mortals, cognitive scientist and AI expert Robert St. Amant explains what he calls, "thereallyinteresting part" of computing, which are the ideas behind the technology. They're powerful ideas, and the foundations for  More...

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Book details

List price: $31.95
Copyright year: 2013
Publisher: Oxford University Press, Incorporated
Publication date: 10/29/2012
Binding: Hardcover
Pages: 288
Size: 5.50" wide x 8.75" long x 1.00" tall
Weight: 1.078
Language: English

InComputing for Ordinary Mortals, cognitive scientist and AI expert Robert St. Amant explains what he calls, "thereallyinteresting part" of computing, which are the ideas behind the technology. They're powerful ideas, and the foundations for everything that computers do, but they are little discussed. This book will not tell you how to use your computer, but it will give you a conceptual tour of how it works. Some of the ideas, like modularity which are so embedded in what we do as humans, can also give us insight into our own daily activities, how we interact with other people, and in some cases even what's going on in our heads. Computing is all around us, and, to quote Richard Hamming, the influential mathematician and computer scientist, "The purpose of computing is insight, not numbers," and it is this insight that informs the entire book.St. Amant starts off with an overview of basic concepts in computing-computers are machines, though different in a few important ways from other kinds of machines. From this point we'll follow two different threads through the fabric of computing. One thread is practical. He explains how the architecture of a computer (it's a more dynamic architecture than that of a building) makes it possible for computers to be efficient. He then shows us how to write down instructions so that a computer can accomplish specific tasks (programming), how the computer manages those tasks as it runs (in its operating system), and how computers can communicate with each other (over a network).The other thread is theoretical. Computers are physical machines, but they process information-in the abstract, they're machines for solving problems. Here we get a view into the nature of computing itself, to see what can be computed and how easily it can be done.He concludes with the human side of computing, from two different perspectives: artificial intelligence, which explores the possibility that computers might eventually be capable of human-level intelligence, and human-computer interaction, which is about the ways in which computers can enrich our lives-and the ways they fall short. Computing, after all, is a very human activity, at its core, built by us and for us.

Introduction
Getting Started
From Mechanical to Electronic Computers
Computer Architecture: The Nuts and Bolts
Algorithms and Structured Data: Solving Problems
Programming: Putting Plans into Action
Operating Systems: Working Together
Computer Networks: Making Connections
Theoretical Computer Science: Pushing Boundaries
Artificial Intelligence: Being Smart
Human-Computer Interaction: Thinking About People
Acknowledgments
Notes
Index

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