Rating: 8.5/10. Overall impression: this book gives a well-rounded overview of syntax, good for an introduction and avoids most of the more theoretical issues. It’s split about 50/50 between English constructions and examples in other languages. This is a good balance, using English examples is easier to “ground” the theory to reality, while there are…

# Category: Textbooks

## Information Theory: A Tutorial Introduction by James V. Stone

Rating: 8.0/10. Ch1: What is Information? Information is quantified using bits, not to be confused with binary digit. A binary digit contains at most one bit of information, but may contain less (if it’s not equally likely to be 0 and 1). Ch2: Entropy of Discrete Variables Definition of entropy H(x) for discrete random variables….

## Designing Voice User Interfaces by Cathy Pearl

Rating: 7.3/10. Voice user interfaces like Siri and Alexa have improved in some ways, but in many other ways are similar to IVR phone systems from the 1970s. This book goes through various things to look out for while designing them. For example: Be as brief as possible and use visual mode to display lots…

## Fifty Challenging Problems in Probability by Frederick Mosteller

Rating: 6.6/10. A classic book with a bunch of random problems in elementary probability (but not statistics). They are not very difficult, ranging from easy to moderate in difficulty. Some of them touch on significant ideas (like random walks, coupon collector problem, German tank problem), but the majority are quite arbitrary (maybe suitable for a…

## Understanding Thermodynamics by H. C. Van Ness

Rating: 9.0/10. Pretty short, 100 page book that gives an intuitive introduction to various topics in thermodynamics and statistical mechanics. It’s meant to be a supplementary text, not a main text, so some really important things were omitted, which was confusing to me, but that’s understandable. Some ideas I learned: Energy can’t really be defined…

## The Fundamentals of Ethics by Russ Shafer-Landau

Rating: 9.5/10. Intro book on ethics — it’s not an easy read (took me about 6 months to finish it) but it contains a lot of deep ideas in 300 pages. The book is divided into three parts: what is the goal in life, how to do the right thing, and what is the status…