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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: The Code Book: The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography
Publisher: Anchor
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
An excellent introduction to the topic

The Code Book, Simon Singh's introduction to the race between cryptologists and cryptanalists, code-makers and code-breakers, is probably one of the most pleasant popular science reads of the year.
The first chapter starts with the description of the monoalphabetic substitution ciphers, its failure and the consequence of the latter, the execution of Mary Queen of Scots. From then we proceed to polyalphabetic ciphers, the Vigenere Cipher and the Babbage's method of breaking it; as an added bonus Singh has thrown in the three Beale papers, allegedly leading to over a ton of gold buried in the hills of Virginia. The third chapter describes the path Germans made between the world wars, from the Zimmerman note disaster to the construction of Enigma. Closely related to it is the next chapter, a story about the Poles and the Brits cracking Enigma.
The fifth chapter is a step aside: on deciphering texts that are not purposely encrypted, but simply written in extinct languages and scripts, like Egyptian hieroglyphics or Minoan Linear B script. From then on, we are probably already on the more familiar territory; the discovery and re-discovery of public key cryptography, and its application in Phil Zimmerman's PGP. The last chapter tries to provide a peek into the future: quantum computers that can break currently uncrackable codes in linear time, and quantum encryption, which cannot be broken without violating the laws of physics.
Apart from the Beale treasure papers, Singh added another gem for aspiring cryptanalists: they can test what they have learned with ten ciphertexts in the appendix, and the author promised to pay 10.000 GBP to the first one who solves all of them. And Singh proved to be a good teacher: to date, nine stages out of ten are solved already (the last one involves a massive amount of CPU time).
True, David Kahn's Codebreakers contains a more exhaustive treatment of the historic development of cryptography, and Bruce Schneier's Applied Cryptography will provide you with a knowledge needed by a working specialist. However, if you share just a casual interest in the area, this is the book for you. It's much more than just stories about people involved in the cryptography and other related trivia - you will be surprised that Singh's lucid explanations will actually make you understand how the algorithms work.

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Introduction to the Theory of Computation
Publisher: Course Technology
Authors: Michael Sipser
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5

Reading this book changed my entire set of beliefs regarding the importance and usefulness of computational theory (and math) in computer science. I have been programming since grade 7, yet only after reading this book do I feel like I really have a grasp of it on a fundamental level. Its like there was this whole other world under my nose that I caught passing glimpses of yet was never able to put together. Like in DOS: c:>dir *, why use a star character? Why is XML the way it is? The list goes on and on. This book tied *alot* of 'loose ends' for me.
I always felt that being a cs-tist was about programming, object oriented design/analysis, design patterns, UML, etc.. And there is no doubt that mastery of these technologies are required of any good cs-tist. However, if you want to understand where all these technologies you use come from, how they connect, and to get a glimpse of where its all going, you must combine your current programming and trend following expertise with knowledge of the underlying theories of computation.
This book should be required reading for all first year CS students so that they may get the 'big picture' right from the start and be able to see CS as a whole rather than a bunch of 'kinda related' courses. I see this book inspiring a whole generation of cs-tists - many of whom may have gone into other professions after reading books like 'Introduction to Automata Theory, Languages, and Computation' by Ullman, Hopcroft (a great, rigorous treatment of cs, but *not* a good book to learn from or be inspired by).
Again, great book!

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: The Elements of Statistical Learning
Publisher: Springer
Authors: T. Hastie, R. Tibshirani, J. H. Friedman
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
A big gap in model averaging

Model averaging is an integral part of model selection and prediction.
Bayesian model averaging (BMA) is a highly sophisticated method for doing model averaging.
It is amazing then that the book hardly touches upon BMA or Bayesian methods.
(By my counting there is a total of 7 pages in all).

In my opinion the authors are very weak in this area which
explains why the topic of BMA is not covered. This is a
shame because it is more than likely BMA would be a serious
competitor (if not better) than the other methods they are
familiar with and discuss in the text.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Macromedia Flash MX ActionScripting: Advanced Training from the Source
Publisher: Macromedia Press
Authors: Derek Franklin, Jobe Makar
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
The Real McCoy for Beginners and Intermediate Flash MX

I will agree with some of the other reviews. This is not an advanced book, so the title is alittle misleading. And while it is also true that some of these tutorials can be found on the webthe time it would take to gather all of this information would be rather time consuming. That being said, this book is a top notch beginner to Intermediate Flash Developer's reference. I have certainly purchased my share of flash books and this one is pound for pound the most comprehensive, methodical, well-writtenbook on my shelf. I probably reach for this one along with ASTDG more than any others when I really need answers/explanations. I am not an advanced developer YET, so this is suiting me just fine, when my skill level reaches a more advanced level, well we all know that more than one reference is needed for any program anyway, so whatever! This is the go to guide until your an advanced Flash developer. And even then, I still think there is plenty of useful info in this one. If you don't really respond to those this is my Design/Dev Co. and this is my big Flash project so follow along and maybe you will learn something books and want to be held by the hand just alitle, you will get alot out this book. I would have liked to have given 4 1/2 stars for the misleading title. Welcome to the real world!