Monday, June 28, 2010

Weeknote #7 (w/e 27/6/10)

While flicking through the June issue of the BBC's Focus magazine, I noticed that one of my research collaborators had received a nice mention from Ian Stewart at Warwick. He was asked to select three books on puzzles and games; Martin Gardner was the obvious first-choice author, and Winning Ways for your Mathematical Plays is a minor classic. Stewart's final choice was a book written by my collaborator at New York University, Dennis Shasha. In the column, Stewart describes Dr Ecco's Cyberpuzzles as "...a fantastic book if you want to spend some serious time solving puzzles and giving your brain a work-out."

Ian Stewart has been a significant influence on my career; as a popular science author, I've always been impressed by his writing, but he had a rather more direct effect on me back in the mid-1990s, when I was a graduate student at the University of Warwick. Ian very kindly wrote me a reference to attend the prestigious Complex Systems Summer School at the Santa Fe Institute, and the month I spent there was incredibly important in terms of shaping my personal ambitions and outlook on research.

Now, I'm fortunate in being able to collaborate with people of Dennis' calibre (see the previous note, below), and last week he very kindly sent me a copy of his latest book. Co-written with Cathy Lazere, Natural Computing is a profile of the frontiers of computer science, told through the stories of fourteen pioneers, such as Rodney Brooks, Ned Seeman and Paul Rothemund. I'll post a full review once I've finished it.

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