padThe Pattern on the Stone:  The Simple Ideas That Make Computers Work

by Daniel Hillis

Most people are baffled by how computers work and assume that they will never understand them . . . what they don’t realize, and what Daniel Hillis’ short book brilliantly demonstrates . . . is that computers’ seemingly complex operations can be broken down into a few simple parts that perform the same simple procedures over and over again. Computer wizard Hillis offers an easy-to-follow explanation of how data are processed. He makes the operations of a computer seem as straightforward as those of a bicycle.

Avoiding technobabble or discussions of advanced hardware, the lucid explanations and colorful anecdotes in The Pattern on the Stone go straight to the heart of what computers really do. Hillis proceeds form an outline of basic logic to clear descriptions of programming languages, algorithms, and memory. He then takes readers in simple steps up to the most exciting developments in computing today—quantum computing, parallel computing, neural networks, and self-organizing systems.

Written clearly and succinctly, The Pattern on the Stone is an indispensable guide to understanding the workings of that most ubiquitous and important of machines: the computer.

Basic Books, 1998, 164 pages, 5 1/4" x 8", paperback

Pattern on the Stone, The
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