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Computer Science books for self-study

  1. Apr 4, 2010 #1
    Hi, I'm a prospective computer science student and would like to get a heads-up on some of the courses that I would most likely be taking at a university.

    Just to make the distinction, I'm not talking about books like "Teach yourself x in x decades" or "practical guide to data structures". I know how to program, and am much more curious about the mathematical and logical underpinnings of computation. What I'm looking for are books that are introductory in nature, but that provide a mathematical rigour appropriate for said level.

    Some topics I'm thinking of in particular are data structures, algorithms, discrete math, probability and some more advanced topics such as cryptography, data compression and fractals (obviously these are of a more advanced in nature, so humour me). So if you have any suggestions, I'm all ears.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 4, 2010 #2


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  4. Apr 5, 2010 #3
    Bill B, how would you gauge the difficulty of the material in those books? I've heard of and have read reviews about these two books, but I've come to a (possibly hasty) conclusion that they might be alittle too advanced for someone in my situation.
  5. Apr 5, 2010 #4


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    Both books are used as textbooks by a number of universities. So, they're not what I would call "light" reading. If you're looking for an easy introduction, then they may not be a good fit. But in the event you want to dive in hard... they may fit the bill.

    I would suggest trying to find copies at a library or bookstore and peruse through them so you can make your own judgment.
  6. Apr 6, 2010 #5
    Bill B: That's probably what I'll end up doing. Thanks.

    I'm hoping this topic also helps others interested in the real computer science, because quite often the phrase 'computer science' is used interchangeably with programming and software development, which is somewhat deceiving. Software development is not computer science, at least not in the theoretical sense of the phrase. Programming is a useful tool for bringing computer science to life, but is not strictly needed by a computer scientist.

    In essence, computer science is a mathematical and logical discipline.
  7. Apr 6, 2010 #6
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