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Book Review: The Practice of Programming

A good book for those just starting out or wanting to look at programming again with a fresh set of eyes, The Practice of Programming by Brian K. Kernighan and Rob Pike has a good approach to teaching programming. Instead of focusing on syntax or abstract concepts right from the get go, the book instead looks as programming as a disipline with concrete examples.

Things like thinking about style of the code you write (use short names for private local variables, longer more descriptive names for more public variables), being consistent with the work, using active names for functions, breaking up complex expressions and algorithms and data structures.

Probably the most interesting coverage of the book is the Markov chains program that is written in multiple languages C, C++, Java as well as some information of Awk and Perl. Seeing how the same functionality can be acheived in multiple languages is very informative, and the book shows how the transition and design changes with the language.

Some of the chapters on debugging are also great, and the advice and examples are useful for everyone. Also, really taking time to think about the code and what it is doing, even in a hectic fastpaced environment is very good advice, and sometimes gets lost in the pace of the moment.

Overall, it is a good book for beginners, easy to read and to the point (and not the size of a phone book like many computer books). I would recommend it to anyone with an interst in programming, especially those just starting out.

Cheers,
Michael Hubbard
https://michaelhubbard.ca

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