Moths in the Machine: The Power and Perils of Programming

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Macmillan, Apr 10, 2000 - Computers - 256 pages
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For better or worse, computers are not literally running our lives. They are extraordinarily helpful in all aspects of our daily routines, from banking to transportation, shopping to surgery. On the other hand, a "bug" in a computer program can now lead to dire consequences, making the rule of the computer programmer more valuable than ever before.
In one fo the most unique yet necessary books ever to appear, Daniel Kohanski, a seasoned programmer and systems consultant, provides a breezy and insightful overview of the fascinating craft of computer programming. With topics ranging from history to aesthetics, from subroutines to ethics, Moths in the Machine will leave even the most inexperienced reader with a deep understanding of the critical role programmers play in the modern world.
 

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User Review  - trilliams - LibraryThing

The actually philosophical sections of this book are really interesting and will likely always be relevant. The rest, however, is either basic history or technical overview. The latter of those is ... Read full review

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Contents

Preface
xi
A PHILOSOPHICAL INTRODUCTION
xvii
BEYOND THE CUCKOO CLOCK
1
IS THERE AN AESTHETIC OF PROGRAMMING?
10
THE ETHICAL QUOTIENT
19
THE STRUCTURE OF THE COMPUTER
33
TYPES OF COMPUTERS
35
THE PARTS OF A COMPUTER
44
CLASSES AND TYPES OF STATEMENTS
104
THE FUNCTIONAL PROGRAM
125
A SHORT COMMENTARY
140
ALGORITHMS AND OBJECTS
144
THE PROGRAMMERS TRADE
157
THE MOTH IN THE MACHINE
159
THE REAL WORLD OUT THERE
165
THE LIMITATIONS OF DESIGN
175

THE CONSTRUCTION OF MEMORY
50
ON A CLEAR DISK YOU CAN SEEK FOREVER
62
A BRIEF INTERRUPTION
68
OPERATING SYSTEMS
71
FUNDAMENTAL TOOLS OF PROGRAMMING
81
THE LANGUAGE OF THE MACHINE
83
FORMS OF DATA DEFINITION
96
PROGRAMMING AS ABSTRACTION AND REFLECTION
186
NUMBER REPRESENTATIONS
193
Acknowledgments
205
Glossary
207
Selected Bibliography and Suggestions for Further Reading
231
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Page ix - As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain ; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.
Page ix - In the design of programming languages one can let oneself be guided primarily by considering "what the machine can do." Considering, however, that the programming language is the bridge between the user and the machine — that it can, in fact, be regarded as his tool — it seems just as important to take into consideration "what Man can think." It is in this vein that we shall continue our investigations. ON THE STRUCTURE OF CONVINCING PROGRAMS The technique of mastering complexity has been known...

About the author (2000)

Daniel Kohanski is a constulting systems engineer who works for the Bank of America. He lives in San Francisco.

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