The New Turing Omnibus
The New Turing Omnibus is a collection of 66 essays in Computer Science, written by A.K. Dewdney. Just as the title would suggest, it’s meant to evoke the imagery of a bus traveling through the countryside taking in the scenery of a nice sabbatical. As such, this tour of Computer Science is every bit the intellectual enjoyment of such a journey.
With the first edition written in 1989 and this the updated vision written in 1993, you may find that some of the material comes across as dated. Of course this isn’t really a shortcoming at all as it’s merely just an indicator of when it was last updated and really can’t be helped in a field that moves as quickly as Computer Science. Remember the context and publication date, while also praying that a New New Turing Omnibus may be in the works.
Okay, introduction and digression aside, this is an awesome book to read and enjoy! If you’re looking for an overview of many interesting problems in Computer Science…such as Turing Machines, Genetic Algorithms, Satisfiability, Church’s Thesis and 61 other such things…this book will be a valuable companion.
For me, the chapters on Predicate Calculus and Logic Programming are perhaps the most interesting. I have played around with Prolog before, but hadn’t seen the theoretical underpinnings of how it works. Reading his essays on the topics reminded me just how clever people can be sometimes (in a good way).
This book may be even more valuable to someone without a formal education in Computer Science, such as myself, as in addition to covering such topics it also provides a bibliography for further study; I certainly know additional books I want to read now!
Note: this is a mathematically oriented book.