A groundbreaking treatise by one of the great mathematicians of our age, who outlines a style of thinking by which great ideas are conceived.
What inspires and spurs on a great idea? Can we train ourselves to think in a way that will enable world-changing understandings and insights to emerge?
Richard Hamming said we can. He first inspired a generation of engineers, scientists, and researchers in 1986 with “You and Your Research,” an electrifying sermon on why some scientists do great work, why most don’t, why he did, and why you can—and should—too. The Art of Doing Science and Engineering is the full expression of what “You and Your Research” outlined. It's a book about thinking; more specifically, a style of thinking by which great ideas are conceived.
The book is filled with stories of great people performing mighty deeds—but they are not meant simply to be admired. Instead, they are to be aspired to, learned from, and surpassed. Hamming consistently returns to Shannon’s information theory, Einstein’s theory of relativity, Grace Hopper’s work on high-level programming, Kaiser’s work on digital fillers, and his own work on error-correcting codes. He also recounts a number of his spectacular failures as clear examples of what to avoid.
Originally published in 1996 and adapted from a course that Hamming taught at the US Naval Postgraduate School, this edition includes an all-new foreword by designer, engineer, and founder of Dynamicland Bret Victor, plus more than 70 redrawn graphs and charts.
The Art of Doing Science and Engineering is a reminder that a capacity for learning and creativity are accessible to everyone. Hamming was as much a teacher as a scientist, and having spent a lifetime forming and confirming a theory of great people and great ideas, he prepares the next generation for even greater distinction.
Foreword Preface Introduction
Orientation Foundations of the digital (discrete) revolution History of computers—hardware History of computers—software History of computer applications Limits of computer applications—AI–I Limits of computer applications—AI–II Limits of computer applications—AI–III n–Dimensional space Coding theory—I Coding theory—II Error-correcting codes Information theory Digital filters—I Digital filters—II Digital filters—III Digital filters—IV Simulation—I Simulation—II Simulation—III Fiber optics Computer-aided instruction (CAI) Mathematics Quantum mechanics Creativity Experts Unreliable data Systems engineering You get what you measure You and your research
Richard W. Hamming (1915–1998) was a scientist and mathematician whose work inspired a generation of engineers, scientists, and researchers. He is best known for discovering mathematical formulas that allow computers to correct their own errors, a fundamental function of modems, compact disks, and satellite communications. Born in Chicago in 1915, he provided crucial programming support as a member of the Manhattan Project. After World War II, he joined Bell Labs, where over the next 15 years he was involved in nearly all of its most prominent achievements. He later taught and lectured at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. Throughout his career, Hamming received many awards for his work, including the Turing Award in 1968, the highest honor in computer science. In 1988, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers created the Richard W. Hamming Medal in his honor, of which he was the first recipient. Chicago, IL
"Your last chance to read the words of thinking of one of the major intellects that the USA has produced." —Eugene N. Miya, NASA researcher
"Hamming is here to tell you about excellence. His lessons unfold through personal stories of discovery and failure—life as an extraordinary scientist. But Hamming demands that you do extraordinary work, too, and for that he offers the best advice I know." —Andy Matuschak, software engineer, designer, and researcher
"Hamming was always as much a teacher as a scientist, and having spent a lifetime forming and confirming a theory of great people, he felt he could prepare the next generation for even greater greatness. That's the premise and promise of this book." —Bret Victor, founder of Dynamicland, designer, and engineer