Capsule Reviews

Ken Arnold and James Gosling
The Java Programming Language
Addison-Wesley, 1996

Here is the summary: Tumblin Duke takes a spill, and loses consciousness. Maybe Gosling and Arnold have been working too hard, and left most of their energy behind. What one would assume to be The book (at least by recalling K&R through its title) of java is a pedestrian work. It does have interesting quotes, but lacks imagination and excitement. Almost all of the code is insignificant except for purposes of basic illustration. This is not a useless book, but it is basically a boring one. it does describe the language adequately, and would make an average reference for some people. I recommend spending money on something more interesting, like the Toy Story video, or Lea's essential Concurrent Programming in Java.

Great Scott! The Best of Jay Scott's Movie Reviews.
Edited by Karen York
McClelland and Stewart inc. 1994

Jay Scott was the virtuoso film reviewer for The Globe and Mail newspaper [Toronto] from 1978 to 1993. He wrote brilliantly, and this collection of 125 reviews out of thousands, is a memorable and much welcomed sampling of this knowledgeable, witty and thoughtful journalist. Highly recommended. [not suitable for fastfood review fans]

"Polanski may see Tess as a victim of society, but she is
by no means a sacrificial victim and the film by no means
an implicit feminist tract, although its supporters and
detractors have agreed on that reductive reading. If they
are correct, then why does Tess eventually, maddeningly,
abet her persecutors, first through shame, then
stubbornness? She is more woman than symbol, and more a
creature of the psychological interaction between novelist
and director than an exponent of any political position."
[review of Tess, pp 73-75]

[Jay Scott died of AIDS in 1993. The proceeds from the sale of this book go to Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research]

Christopher Fraser and David Hanson
A Retargetable C Compiler: Design and Implementation
Benjamin/Cummings, 1995

Here is an entire C compiler as a literate [noweb] program. lcc may well be the most readable production-quality compiler in existence, thanks to its authors and this book. Each chapter covers an essential part of the compiler [eg. generating intermediate code, register allocation etc] and closes with further reading and exercises. Like the compiler itself, the book is fat-free. [a yacc parser along with lcc's own recursive descent parser would have been instructive.] Clean code, clean layout, with helpful mini indexes. Tech report prose. Recommended good reading even for those who never have to work with compilers.

Patrice Boizumault
The Implementation of Prolog
Princeton Series in Computer Science
Princeton University Press, 1993

This book is based on Boizumault's thesis, and was originally published in french as Prolog: L'Implantation, 1988. Good to finally have it in English. Prolog is a language filled with interesting implementation problems, and this book is an enlightening collection of solutions offered by various implementations. It covers every important aspect of prolog anatomy, and concludes with three small implementations (mini-cprolog, mini-wam, mini-prolog-II) in common lisp, and detailed discussion. [I wish i could fuse this book with Meier/Warren's Computing With Logic somehow.] English translation is stiff in places, but never mind. Recommended reading for serious language types.

Donald E. Knuth and Silvio Levy
The CWEB System of Structured Documentation
Addison-Wesley, 1994.

This is the large literate book edition [with a spidery C++ (!?) on the cover] of ctangle and cweave source, the C versions of tangle and weave which everyone knows about. [he still runs out of his office with joy!] as with other knuth books, entertaining and educational, but nowhere near as meaty as, say TeX: The Program. those who are interested in literate programming tools and languages should almost certainly get a copy. It makes a good benchmark, a pointer to one possible destination. [for additional oxygen, also get a copy of Human Factors and Typography for More Readable Programs by Baecker and Marcus.]

W. F. Clocksin and C. S. Mellish
Programming in Prolog
Springer-Verlag, fourth edition, 1994.

There are only a handful of books on programming languages that have reached the status of an indispensible reference, and C&M [like K&R] is one of them. Perhaps what makes these books stand above other books is their level of intellectual energy; The reader can see new possibilities. It is fun to go in there. When a book like this comes out in its fourth edition [seven years since the third edition] it is a must-have. Or not. The new edition has a nice cover graphic, it is slightly smaller than the previous editions, and it has a preface in which authors tell you that this edition contains only a few minor corrections. They acknowledge some of the happenings in the prolog world, but rest the book is innocent of them. It still comes with an appendix on micro-prolog.

Does C&M need to be updated? I do not know. all i know is, if you have the third edition, you do not need the fourth.

Ozan Yigit
Oct 1996