Book Review – Algorithms in a Nutshell

by trdunsworth

I’ve recently been reading Algorithms in a Nutshell by George T. Heineman, Gary Pollice, Stanley Selkow. As usual, the disclaimer is that I received a copy of the book for free in return for the review. This book is dense. It was tough for me to get through. That’s not really a negative, it’s an admission that for all of my education in learning programming languages and writing programs, I’ve never taken the time to learn the Computer Science behind the craft of programming.

That said, this is not a book for getting an introduction into algorithms. This is a book for reference when you know what you’re doing and you want to confirm how this algorithmic pattern or that pattern will impact the program and the speed of computation. The book is well written and there is tonnes of example code throughout the book to explain what the authors are saying about each type of algorithm. There are also a tonne of algorithm types in the book to demonstrate the principles. The epilogue alone is worth the price of the book when you read it. I might have placed it at the front as a prologue to explain what I was reading first. However, as I said, I don’t have the same background and I certainly would have benefited from an introductory level book on the topic before attacking this one.

However, when time and tide avail me, I will certainly read something more introductory first and then I will return, with more knowledge in hand, to this book to see what else I can extract from it and see how it can make me a better programmer. If you are already a programmer dealing with these types of algorithms on a daily basis, then you should have this book at your side.