Computing Reviews

Exercises in programming style
Lopes C., Chapman & Hall/CRC, Boca Raton, FL, 2014. 304 pp. Type: Book
Date Reviewed: 02/19/15

Programming languages have, in the history of computing, found creative ways to allow programming in a variety of styles--and here “style” can mean internal features (structure, usage conventions, and so on) or external features (system architecture). One who masters these styles will understand a great deal about programming, history, and system design.

Lopes presents a simple problem (determining word frequency in a text) and then generates 33 solutions (all in the Python language) that are markedly different. The commentary for each concisely and clearly states the reasons why the approach under consideration might be a good one, or at least why it is of interest historically. She states that the code “is for everyone who enjoys the art of programming,” and as one of those people I thank her for this book.

When I read the preface, and specifically its statement that the book could serve as a text in an advanced programming course, I was briefly skeptical since I did not appreciate the range of what is encompassed by “style” in the book’s title. After a few examples I came to see the breadth of what the author was doing, and came to agree with her description of one target audience.

The book can also serve as a primer or a refresher for those who are not taking a course, but who are interested in either the history of languages or the wealth of ideas that are embedded in languages. It is easy to read, and the reader can easily understand from the examples and descriptions why the various ideas embedded in the examples are (or in some cases were) important.

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Reviewer:  D. T. Barnard Review #: CR143195 (1506-0437)

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