Computing for Ordinary Mortals

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9780199775309: Computing for Ordinary Mortals

Computing isn't only (or even mostly) about hardware and software; it's also about the ideas behind the technology. In Computing for Ordinary Mortals, computer scientist Robert St. Amant explains this "really interesting part" of computing, introducing basic computing concepts and strategies in a way that readers without a technical background can understand and appreciate.

Each of the chapters illustrates ideas from a different area of computing, and together they provide important insights into what drives the field as a whole. St. Amant starts off with an overview of basic concepts as well as a brief history of the earliest computers, and then he traces two different threads through the fabric of computing. One thread is practical, illuminating the architecture of a computer and showing how this architecture makes computation efficient. St. Amant shows us how to write down instructions so that a computer can accomplish specific tasks (programming), how the computer manages those tasks as it runs (in its operating system), and how computers can communicate with each other (over a network). The other thread is theoretical, describing how computers are, in the abstract, machines for solving problems. Some of these ideas are embedded in much of what we do as humans, and thus this discussion can also give us insight into our own daily activities, how we interact with other people, and in some cases even what's going on in our heads.

St. Amant concludes with artificial intelligence, exploring the possibility that computers might eventually be capable of human-level intelligence, and human-computer interaction, showing how computers can enrich our lives--and how they fall short.

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From the Back Cover:

"Reading this book reminded me why I got into computing in the first place. It's a stunning tale that begins with nascent computers from the 1800s and ends with some of the wonders of our time: computer graphics, artificial intelligence, and the Internet. Such a story could be impenetrable, but Professor St. Amant explains the arcana of computing with real-world stories and scenarios that will be accessible to everyone."
--JOE MARKS, former Vice President & Fellow, Disney Research

"High school and college students take the same required courses as their parents did, as if the Information Age hadn't happened. Mathematics is considered essential for all students, but computation, which runs the modern world and affects every aspect of our lives, is not. Who is brave and skillful enough to explain the technology of the Information Age? Rob St. Amant's wonderful Computing for Ordinary Mortals tells us how computers and software work, how they support large applications and industries, what's theoretically possible, and the important interface between humans and machines."
--PAUL R. COHEN, Professor and Director, School of Information: Science, Technology and Arts, University of Arizona

"This text should be required for all high school students or university freshmen. Too often 'computer literacy' means little more than the ability to create a Power Point presentation or surf the web. Meanwhile computers are pervasive in work, school, and home settings--not to mention our mobile phones. Whether you want to be a knowledgeable worker, an empowered consumer, or a productive hobbyist, having a good intuition for the inner workings of computers will ease your fears and frustrations while guiding your actions along the way. Instead of penning a dry textbook full of technical details, St. Amant relies on metaphors and stories, from working in a bustling workplace (computer architecture), tending hiking trails (graph theory), planning renovations (algorithms), to running a family reunion (multi-tasking). Old-timers will recognize many favorite computer metaphors: pneumatic tubes (networking), recipes (programming), and puzzles (AI). The end result is a comprehensive and engaging introduction to modern computing."
--ELIZABETH MYNATT, Executive Director, Institute for People and Technology, Professor, School of Interactive Computing, Georgia Institute of Technology

About the Author:


Robert St. Amant is an Associate Professor of Computer Science at North Carolina State University

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Book Description Oxford University Press Inc, United States, 2012. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Computing isn t only (or even mostly) about hardware and software; it s also about the ideas behind the technology. In Computing for Ordinary Mortals, computer scientist Robert St. Amant explains this really interesting part of computing, introducing basic computing concepts and strategies in a way that readers without a technical background can understand and appreciate. Each of the chapters illustrates ideas from a different area of computing, and together they provide important insights into what drives the field as a whole. St. Amant starts off with an overview of basic concepts as well as a brief history of the earliest computers, and then he traces two different threads through the fabric of computing. One thread is practical, illuminating the architecture of a computer and showing how this architecture makes computation efficient. St. Amant shows us how to write down instructions so that a computer can accomplish specific tasks (programming), how the computer manages those tasks as it runs (in its operating system), and how computers can communicate with each other (over a network). The other thread is theoretical, describing how computers are, in the abstract, machines for solving problems. Some of these ideas are embedded in much of what we do as humans, and thus this discussion can also give us insight into our own daily activities, how we interact with other people, and in some cases even what s going on in our heads. St. Amant concludes with artificial intelligence, exploring the possibility that computers might eventually be capable of human-level intelligence, and human-computer interaction, showing how computers can enrich our lives-and how they fall short. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780199775309

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Book Description Oxford University Press Inc, United States, 2012. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Computing isn t only (or even mostly) about hardware and software; it s also about the ideas behind the technology. In Computing for Ordinary Mortals, computer scientist Robert St. Amant explains this really interesting part of computing, introducing basic computing concepts and strategies in a way that readers without a technical background can understand and appreciate. Each of the chapters illustrates ideas from a different area of computing, and together they provide important insights into what drives the field as a whole. St. Amant starts off with an overview of basic concepts as well as a brief history of the earliest computers, and then he traces two different threads through the fabric of computing. One thread is practical, illuminating the architecture of a computer and showing how this architecture makes computation efficient. St. Amant shows us how to write down instructions so that a computer can accomplish specific tasks (programming), how the computer manages those tasks as it runs (in its operating system), and how computers can communicate with each other (over a network). The other thread is theoretical, describing how computers are, in the abstract, machines for solving problems. Some of these ideas are embedded in much of what we do as humans, and thus this discussion can also give us insight into our own daily activities, how we interact with other people, and in some cases even what s going on in our heads. St. Amant concludes with artificial intelligence, exploring the possibility that computers might eventually be capable of human-level intelligence, and human-computer interaction, showing how computers can enrich our lives-and how they fall short. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780199775309

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