Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Hacker's Delight

Hacker's Delight really is delightfully comprehensive, not to mention fantastically dense. It's really more of a reference but you can certainly read it from cover to cover... but be prepared to be stalled for hours or days on certain pages if you really want to understand why things work.

Be warned: this book is not an introduction to the subject of bit manipulation. It doesn't explain basic concepts and only falls into prose later in the book; much of it is page after page of mind-blowing formulas for every concievable task. Beginners can get through it, but only with serious effort. Although the framework you need to understand bit manipulation is very simple, certain devices come up frequently in code examples, but take awhile to grasp for the uninitiated.

Above all this is a very entertaining -see how many pages you can read without grinning at the magic- and thorough compilation of fascinating little tricks and algorithms. It probably won't be very useful to a Java programmer or "software engineer", but in any case it's good to expand your thinking. If you appreciated HAKMEM, you must get Hacker's Delight!

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