Extra Credit: read a book!

posted by: Ms. Martin 28 February 2010 5 Comments

There are some amazing books out there related to computer science concepts.  Reading books like these has really gotten me excited about learning and I would like you to have the opportunity to dive in and see some of the amazing ideas out there.

In fact, I care enough about this that I am offering 10 extra credit points for you to read one of these books, discuss it with me for about 10 minutes and write a short blog post about it.  I don’t want a book summary, I don’t want a 5-paragraph essay… I just want you to write a few thoughts about what stood out to YOU about the book.  It could even be a somewhat peripheral point as long as it spoke out to you for some reason.  I would like this in by Wednesday, May 26th.

Below is the list that I recommend choosing from.  I’m open to suggestions, too!

Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid

This is a hard, long book, but it’s well worth it.  It’s hard to describe because it covers so much — artificial intelligence, human creativity, computational potential… there’s something there for everyone willing to think hard at every page.  If you tackle this book and don’t quite finish by the end of May, that’s fine.  We can still have a good conversation about it.

On Intelligence

If you’re fascinated by the idea of thinking machines, then this is the right book for you.  It’s a relatively quick read but has a bunch of information on how the human brain works and on how artificial intelligence could be made truly intelligent.  There’s also some interesting information in there about Jeff Hawkin’s life path which might give you some ideas.

Group Theory in the Bedroom, and Other Mathematical Diversions

This is a series of entertaining and informative articles on topics in mathematics and computer science.  Fear not, there’s hardly an equation in there and it’s meant to be approachable to all.  The writing style is chatty and easy to read but you are sure to come away with several interesting ideas with far-reaching implications.

Blown to Bits

This book covers how the digital data and the Internet work and how they have changed the world.

The Drunkard’s Walk: How Randomness Rules our Lives

All sorts of applications of statistics and probability are explained in this book.  You’ll come away with a greater appreciation of random processes and so ideas of how they can be leveraged to write interesting software.

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