Computing: A Historical and Technical Perspective, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover


A Historical and Technical Perspective, 1st Edition

By Yoshihide Igarashi, Tom Altman, Mariko Funada, Barbara Kamiyama

Chapman and Hall/CRC

350 pages | 30 B/W Illus.

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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 Suitable as a supplement in undergraduate courses, it provides a self-contained historical reference source for anyone interested in this important and evolving field.


"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

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.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
COMPUTERS / Information Theory
MATHEMATICS / Recreations & Games