Introduction to the Theory of Computationby Michael Sipser Published 01 Feb 2005
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This highly anticipated revision builds upon the strengths of the previous edition. Sipser's candid, crystal-clear style allows students at every level to understand and enjoy this field. His innovative "proof idea" sections explain profound concepts in plain English. The new edition incorporates many improvements students and professors have suggested over the years, and offers updated, classroom-tested problem sets at the end of each chapter.
"Introduction to the Theory of Computation" Reviews
Anyone wishes to learn about automata, context-free languages, and Turing machines needs to pick up this book. I'm not even kidding. Sipser is such a clear writer and can describe concept things very lucidly. My favorite thing about this book compared to other mathematical books is that Sipser explicitly gives the "Proof Idea" before delving into a proof. Most people that use proofs are probably familiar with the sensation of finishing reading a proof only to wonder what in the world just happened. This hardly happens in this book.
The best textbook I've read on any subject—by some margin. I'd get carried away reading it, despite the fact that theoretical CS (especially complexity) has never been my thing. It's incredibly accessible, to a surprising degree for a book covering advanced abstract topics.
Sipser writes clearly and explains concepts well but, crucially, he does an incredible job building up your intuition. You don't just learn the material, you understand it. That's something few authors try and fewer yet deliver.
The most visible component of this is the book's structure with "proof sketches"—little proof roadmaps—laid out before diving into the fiddly details of the full proof. All too often, proofs jump around in surprising ways—sure, approach X works, but where did it come from? What insight is it based on? Proof sketches, coupled with quality prose, help you understand where proofs come from and why they make sense, not just how they work.
He also introduces some interesting context to the ideas and formalisms presented. His observation on the "robustness" of Turing-completeness—how virtually any reasonable model of computation, however weird and exotic, seems to have the same level of power—still influences my views on math and CS. Robust properties, emerging almost on their own, make mathematical ideas seem far less arbitrary than they would otherwise. Perhaps it's given me a bad case of platonism.
So: accessible, well-written, enjoyable. Rare qualities for a textbook, making it the perfect place to start with theoretical CS. One caveat comes to mind: it is not very thorough. You get a strong introduction to the field, but nothing more. This gets you going, introduces basic vocabulary and demonstrates the theoretical CS mindset but is not enough to progress further on the subject. A perfect fit if you're reading for enlightenment or curiosity, but needs supplemental resources to go beyond that.
But that's not a real shortcoming, it's just a matter of focus. So, keeping that in mind, I can recommend this book unreservedly for anyone interested in theoretical CS.
For some reason it feels strange to me to write a review for a textbook here at Goodreads, especially for a textbook I read and used years ago. But I love this book.
While I was a college professor (in Computer Science), I received a review copy of this book. I used it several times for miscellaneous reasons, and then one semester I actually got to teach from it. Sipser's writing is very clear and instructional. (It's nowhere near as dry as the once-traditional textbook, Introduction to Automata Theory, Languages, and Computation. Has this been unseated since I changed careers?) His selection of exercises and exercises exceeds my disgustingly high standards.
You can't do better than this book for a college course in computation. I'm not sure how well it would work to read on your own, but it'll still be better than any of the others.
Runs out of depth really early, but I learned my basics of automata theory from this lovely little hardback and will always love it for that. Remains the clearest exposition of the fundamental formalisms of which I'm aware. There's plenty of books with much more meat, and you'll inevitably need them -- browse my library for examples.
The name of the book is confusing - "Introduction to the..." is in fact written as if you already understand the material. Topics are very condensed, where rather than giving space to explain things it tends to say "it is obvious that ...", when often it isn't that obvious.
One of the most interactive book I have ever read. This book explains concept in a very good manner. However this book lacks automata type examples , but theory is sufficient to solve any question from other book.