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Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Classical Electrodynamics
Publisher: Wiley
Authors: John David Jackson
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
A challenging textbook that never collects much dust

Before I start, I would like to recognize that this book is not going to be loved by everyone. It is dense, it is filled with lots of mathematics, and requires a lot of effort to read. If you're not a graduate student in physics (or a very closely related field) you should not even consider this book.

That being said, I still give this book five stars. For anyone who's going to be a theoretical physicist, this book is invaluable. The techniques that are taught in this book -- spherical harmonics, differential equation solutions, and a myriad of problem solving skills -- are useful to me even today.

Jackson has a lot to say about many different topics, and his book is an extremely useful reference that I still go to multiple times a year. For a graduate student, this is the definitive book on Electro-Magnetism. It requires a *lot* of work to get through, as you cannot read and digest portions of it in just a fraction of an hour. The work is well worth it, though, and with a first-year E&M course with Jackson, you have an opportunity to learn a ridiculous amount of material.

For the record, you *don't* need to be a genius from CalTech to get a lot out of this book. It isn't easy, and it isn't for everyone. But if you're a motivated student who isn't afraid of a lot of hard work, you should enjoy it as much as I do.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Absolute Beginner's Guide to C (2nd Edition)
Publisher: Sams
Authors: Greg Perry
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
I am a Beginner and I AGREE ITS THE BEST

I have been teaching myself C for about a year now . Mostly off and on , but this book by far surpasses my expectations. I am on Page 235 and have 135 pages to go ! But as far as i can see this book cant end bad. This book is by far the easiest to understand . Trust me I have bought 4 books on C and have read only one of them all the way through this will be number 2. Also after you get done reading this book get C for Dummies a great second book on C. The author should have made the rand() and srand() section a little bit clearer , but other then that BUY THESE BOOKS !!!!!

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Fortran 90/95 for Scientists and Engineers
Publisher: McGraw-Hill Science/Engineering/Math
Authors: Stephen J. Chapman, Stephen Chapman
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Very good reference for code maintenance and development

I had some exposure to Fortran programming in several of my college courses, but have been lacking in the way of a good reference the few times since that I have had to work with Fortran code. As an engineer in an industry that relies heavily on codes written in Fortran, many of them with portions that are 20-30 years old, I was in search of a general reference book that would help me find my way through these codes. Luckily, a colleague had a copy of Fortran 90/95 for Scientists and Engineers, and I liked it enough to buy my own copy instead of borrowing his all the time. I find this book to be very helpful not only because of its concise and clear explanations of Fortran syntax and programming tips, but also because it explains how to understand code written for older versions of Fortran (don't worry, the author clearly labels the old constructs and warns against using any outdated methods). I would recommend this book to anyone interested in better understanding Fortran code in general. It is quite suitable for beginners, as well, with multiple examples and exercises (with answers available on the author's website). I give it only four stars for the simple reason that five stars implies perfection, and there's always room for improvement in any endeavor. By far the best Fortran reference I've found so far, though...

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Professional Software Development: Shorter Schedules, Higher Quality Products, More Successful Projects, Enhanced Careers
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Steve McConnell
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
A book all programmers should read and think deeply about

The main theme of the book is that software developers should be given the opportunity to obtain a state-sanctioned license similar to those of physicians, dentists and civil engineers. To obtain such a license, it would be necessary to undergo extensive training and pass a qualifying exam. The benefits of such a properly constructed program are obvious. Once you obtain a license, your income would most certainly rise dramatically. Also, in the case of software where failure could cost lives, it is comforting to know that those who wrote it were highly trained and very qualified. Professional programs could also help if legal action is ever taken against you. The American legal system has repeatedly dictated that you can be sued for malpractice only if you violate the professional rules of conduct in a situation. If you follow the rules, then you cannot be successfully sued for malpractice. There is of course a down side to such a program. Implementation would be complex and it would have to be phased in using stages. Not all programmers would be able to achieve such a high level of expertise, and quite frankly, not all have a need to do so. Computing is also somewhat rare as a field, in that some of the greatest success stories involve people who were not highly trained. While computing is indeed maturing into a profession where the "code warrior" is a thing of the past, traditions and myths die very slowly. McConnell is dead on in the position he takes. He comes down strongly in favor of having a program of licensing developers, although he considers it suitable primarily for programmers writing code where lives are at stake. He correctly points out that the bulk of developers will not need to undergo such extensive training. He also effectively uses the analogy of the medical profession. Physicians are organized into specialties, from family practice to the most specialized of surgeons. However, there are many tiers of medical workers such as nurses and physicians assistants, who are just as essential, but require much less training. The point in the book that should be taken most seriously is that of having a professional code of conduct, which includes ethics and the necessity of following sound development processes. Very few programmers, and I am not one of them, have avoided being asked by a superior to hack out a solution to a problem by violating some (most?) of the rules of sound software creation. If such a code of conduct were to exist, then all programmers who subscribe would have a strong argument to use in facing down a superior who wants code developed using strategies in violation of sound policies. One other point that may be used in favor of such a licensing program is that it may slow down the apparent mad rush to outsource software development. If enough U.S. programmers demonstrate such a high level of skills, then it will be incumbent and maybe even necessary for U.S. organizations to use them rather than "cheaper" foreign programmers. Such a licensing program will of course eventually diffuse outside the U, S. borders, but that will take years. It is time for the programming community to drop several myths, and move towards higher levels of professionalism. Bridges had to collapse and people had to die before governments began to regulate those who designed and built bridges, and it is in everyone's interest that this not be repeated in computing. McConnell makes a compelling case for such regulation and I strongly encourage everyone to read this book and give his views the deep thought that they deserve.