Computing : A Historical and Technical Perspective book cover
1st Edition

A Historical and Technical Perspective

ISBN 9781482227413
Published May 27, 2014 by Chapman & Hall
350 Pages 30 B/W Illustrations

FREE Standard Shipping
USD $74.95

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

Exploring a vast array of topics related to computation, Computing: A Historical and Technical Perspective covers the historical and technical foundation of ancient and modern-day computing. The book starts with the earliest references to counting by humans, introduces various number systems, and discusses mathematics in early civilizations. It guides readers all the way through the latest advances in computer science, such as the design and analysis of computer algorithms.

Through historical accounts, brief technical explanations, and examples, the book answers a host of questions, including:

  • Why do humans count differently from the way current electronic computers do?
  • Why are there 24 hours in a day, 60 minutes in an hour, etc.?
  • Who invented numbers, when were they invented, and why are there different kinds?
  • How do secret writings and cryptography date back to ancient civilizations?

Innumerable individuals from many cultures have contributed their talents and creativity to formulate what has become our mathematical and computing heritage. By bringing together the historical and technical aspects of computing, this book enables readers to gain a deep appreciation of the long evolutionary processes of the field developed over thousands of years. Suitable as a supplement in undergraduate courses, it provides a self-contained historical reference source for anyone interested in this important and evolving field.

Table of Contents

The Dawn of Counting
Archeological Evidence: Paleolithic Art
Fingers for Counting
The Use of Tally Sticks and Representational Symbols: The First Information Revolution
Counting by Pebbles
The Use of Tokens and the Second Information Revolution

Representation of Numbers
Positional Number Systems
More about Number Systems
Further Discussions of Zero

Rational and Irrational Numbers
Appearance of Fractions
Rational Numbers
Irrational Numbers

Prime Numbers
The Story of Prime
The Prime Number Theorem

Euclid’s Elements

Diophantus of Alexandria and Arithmetica

Secret Writing in Ancient Civilization

The Abacus
The Earliest Abaci
The Salamis Tablet and the Roman Hand Abacus
The Chinese Abacus
The Japanese Abacus

Book of Calculation by Fibonacci

Decimal Fractions and Logarithms
Appearance of Decimal Fractions

Calculating Machines
The Rechen Uhr or "Calculating Clock" of Wilhelm Schickard
The Pascaline
Leibniz and the Stepped Reckoner
The Jacquard Loom
Babbage’s Mechanical Computers
Ada Lovelace, The First Computer Programmer
Herman Hollerith and His Amazing Tabulator

Solutions to Algebraic Equations
Linear Equations
Quadratic Equations
Cubic Equations
Quartic and Quintic Equations

Real and Complex Numbers
Real Numbers
Complex Numbers
Complex-Valued Functions


Boolean Algebras and Applications

Computability and Its Limitations
Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem
Total Functions
Turing Machines
Church–Turing’s Thesis

Cryptography from the Medieval to the Modern Ages
The Arab Cryptanalysts
Polyalphabetic Substitution Ciphers
Homophonic Substitution Ciphers
Enigma Machine
Breaking Enigma Codes
Lorenz Cipher

Electronic Computers
The ABC Computer
The Z3 Computer
The Colossus Computer
The ENI AC Computer
Von Neumann Architecture for Computers
Other Notable Early Electronic Computers

Numerical Methods
Numerical Calculation in Ancient Civilizations
Numerical Solution of Algebraic Equations
Modern Numerical Analysis and Its Problem Domains

Modular Arithmetic
Clock Arithmetic
Chinese Remainder Theorem
Fermat’s Little Theorem

Cybernetics and Information Theory
Norbert Wiener and Cybernetics
Shannon’s Information Theory
Shannon–Fano Coding and Huffman Coding
Morse Code

Error Detecting and Correcting Codes
Parity Check Codes
Hamming Codes
Linear Codes

Automata and Formal Languages
Autonomous Apparatus
Automata as Computing Models
Formal Languages

Artificial Intelligence
What Is AI?
AI Timeline
AI Pioneers
Areas of AI

Programming Languages
Machine Code
Interpretative Crutches
The First High-Level Language: Fortran
Overview: Imperative Programming
Overview: Declarative Programming
The Second High-Level Language: LIS P
Overview: Functional Programming
Standardization and Compromise: ALGOL 60
From Science to Business: COBOL
Back to the BASICs
Overview: Logical Programming
Programming Logic: Prolog
Overview: Object-Oriented Programming
The First Object-Oriented Programming Language: Smalltalk
Imperative and Object Oriented: C++
Object Oriented, Hold the Imperative: Java
The Best of Both Worlds: C#

Algorithms and Computational Complexity

The Design of Computer Algorithms
Sorting and Searching
Data Structures
Graph Algorithms
Randomized Algorithms

Parallel and Distributed Computing
Dawn of Parallelism
Parallel Computers
Parallel Algorithms
Distributed Computing

Computer Networks
Packet Switching Networks
World Wide Web
Cloud and Grid Computing
Ubiquitous Computing

Public-Key Cryptography
The Situation in the 1960s and 1970s before the Public Keys
The Birth of Public-Key Cryptography
RSA Cryptography
Digital Signatures
Another Story of Public-Key Cryptography from England

Quantum Computing
The Basics of Quantum Computing
Quantum Computation Logic and Gates
Famous Quantum Algorithms
Difficulties and Limits of Quantum Computing
Closing Summary


References appear at the end of each chapter.

View More


"This is a remarkable book. Written by four authors, it consists of a collection of 31 self-contained papers that explain many different concepts related to computing and place them in an historical context. The papers are generally accessible for the layman and relatively short … a compact encyclopedia of computing involving all aspects, such as mathematics, software, and hardware."
—A. Bultheel, The European Mathematical Society, June 2014

"... written at a reasonable level for undergraduates and some (or all) of the chapters could be assigned as supplemental reading for a variety of computer science courses. Summing Up: Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates."
—P. Cull, Oregon State University in CHOICE Magazine, February 2015 Vol. 52 No. 6
Read the full review at