July 15, 2007

Turing: A Novel About Computation (by: Christos H. Papadimitriou)

Posted in Books at 12:14 pm by pmatos

Turing: A Novel About Computation by Christos H. Papadimitriou

Personal Comments:

(Note: This comment refers to the Portuguese translation published by Bizâncio. The portuguese translation is titled: “Turing: Um Romance sobre Computação”)

Last Valentine’s day I was in Portugal and my girlfriend offered me this book, which was definitely to my taste. I was eager to read it for three reasons:

  1. I knew Christos Papadimitriou from his Computational Complexity book which I enjoyed a lot;
  2. I liked the idea of using computer science inside a novel;
  3. The Scientific reviewer of this collection is Felix Costa, one of the best teachers I had back in Instituto Superior Técnico;

Overall, I didn’t like the book. The book is well-written but it is confusing and the computer science parts seems to be thrown into the novel without any kind of context. They just show up out of nowhere and for a computer scientist there is not much to learn.

On the other hand, I just might be plainly biased. Why? Because the book started and after the first three chapter I said to myself: “I won’t like this…” and so it was, I kept repeating this to myself until I finished the book in the vain hope of having a surprise and the book turning to be very good. This didn’t happen. As chapters started and ended I got more and more frustrated and nothing seemed to make sense. However, I might have lacked the insight to understand the brilliancy of the book, I’ll give you that. This because Doxiadis comments the book as being great, it was reviewed by many people one of them being Don Knuth, so… probably it was me who was not able to grasp its essence. For this reason I’ll read it again next year hoping that by then I’m able to provide a better ranking… for now… the book is taking an F!


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