This post is based on a book review I recently wrote on The Mathematics of Life, by Ian Stewart. A final version of the review will appear in a future issue of SIGACT News. Please feel free to download a pdf version of the full preprint, or just read an abbreviated version of it here, in blog format.
Ian Stewart is one of the premier popularizers of mathematics. He has written over twenty books about math for lay audiences. He has also co-authored science fiction, and books on the science of science fiction (three books on “the science of discworld”). In his newest effort, The Mathematics of Life, Stewart focuses his talents on the mathematics of biology, and the result is superb. In an easy, flowing read, with dozens of diagrams and scholarly footnotes — but without a single formula — he introduces the reader to a wide range of interactions between mathematicians and biologists. I heartily recommend this book.
I recently completed a review for SIGACT News of the Handbook of Nature-Inspired and Innovative Computing, edited by Albert Zomaya. The full review is here. Below is the introduction to the review. I enjoyed reading the book.
The ambitious goal of the Handbook of Nature-Inspired and Innovative Computing is to “to be a Virtual Get Together of several researchers that one could invite to attend a conference on ‘futurism’ dealing with the theme of Computing in the 21st Century.” The Handbook contains 22 chapters, written in a “workshop style,” meaning that little to no background is required from the reader except for basic knowledge of computer science, and the chapter authors provide an overview of a particular research area. The material is divided into three sections: Models (i.e., theory), Enabling Technologies (i.e., hardware), and Application Domains (i.e., recent, novel applications of computer science). Most of the chapters present either theoretical models (fuzzy logic, quantum computing, swarm intelligence) or report on trends in non-von-Neumann-model hardware (morphware, optical VLSI, neural models in silicon). Overall, I found this volume to be a fascinating, and gentle, introduction to a wide range of nonstandard research areas of computer science.