Friday, March 28, 2014

The Pattern on the Stone

Daniel Hillis has done a lot of cool AI stuff, so I picked up his book about how computers work used off Amazon.  Definitely worth $0.01 plus shipping, but not exactly a revelation if you've done any prior reading or thinking about the topic.

The book does a pretty good and pretty substantial job of explaining how a modern computer works from the ground up.  I say "substantial" because Hillis really lingers on some of the very basic building blocks of the physical implementation of Boolean algebra and the construction of a finite state machine, so that by the time you get to him saying that a computer is a finite state machine hooked up to a memory and coupled to some inputs and outputs, these words will all  end up meaning something concrete to you if they did not at the beginning.  

If those words all mean something to you already, you might consider skipping the book.   Though I can't say I learned a ton, I still think I cemented a few concepts like machine language that were a little nebulous before, and the book is well-written and a quick read, hence enjoyable.  

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