art with code


Programming books that I've liked

Programming languages

Programming Language Pragmatics
An extensive survey of how different programming languages work, i.e. how compilers and interpreters work, how different language features are implemented, what sorts of different programming languages are there, and so on. I read the book over a couple of months, and it was actually quite interesting.

The C Programming Language a.k.a. K&R
I read this over the weekend a couple weeks back and it was a nice read. Very practice-oriented, going through the language and standard library by building up example programs (even if some examples are a bit "Oh and by the way, you should never do this.") And at 200 pages or so (+100 pages of appendices), it's not going to take forever to read either.

Real World Haskell
Everyone's favourite lazily evaluated purely functional language and how to use it to get things done. You should also check out the online version of the book (and the paragraph comments in particular, such a nice idea.) While it does start off very, very slowly and tends to use an annoying mix of code snippets interleaved with function introductions in ghci, it's still quite readable.

Haskell 98 Language and Libraries: The Revised Report
The language lawyer book for Haskell. Very dense, very technical, very code-filled, very lovely. Starts off with a grammar specifying the lexical structure of valid Haskell programs, and contains the source code for Haskell's standard library, so it might require some fortitude. Also available online. This alone makes it worth checking out.

For OCaml, do see the OCaml manual and Developing Applications With Objective Caml. For Coq, I've been reading the tutorial and reading some sources.

Programming Ruby: The Pragmatic Programmers' Guide
The Ruby book. Has a very K&R vibe to it with focused examples and a tour of the standard library. I think this was the book that got me re-started on programming ~five years ago. Before that I was drawing for a living and programming for fun. Now I'm drawing for fun, programming for fun and starving for a living. Ha ha, fate, that fickle mistress.

Algorithms and data structures

Introduction to Algorithms
This was the book on our data structures course. We went through hash tables, binary trees, red-black trees and graph search algorithms. Borrowed the book from the library and read it for the exam. Can't remember a thing apart from "Hey, this book is pretty nice."

Purely Functional Data Structures
The Cormen book above contains imperative algorithms. Using them in a functional language is going to be painful. Hence Okasaki ventured forth and wrote his PhD about data structures that are better compatible with functional programming, and this book is the result. The language of the examples is SML with a laziness extension, and there's an appendix with Haskell versions of the sources. There's also a PDF of the thesis available online.

Graphics programming

Computer Graphics: Principles and Practice in C
While the drawing API parts of the book are aged (there's a whole chapter dedicated to PHIGS for crying out loud), it has a very useful chapter on parametric curves and goes through the basic shading equations and transformation matrices. It also has algorithms for drawing lines and circles and whatnot. Perhaps most useful as a 2D graphics book.

Real-Time Rendering
A thorough treatment of the theory behind real-time (read: game) rendering engines. I leafed this through at the university library, so my memories are vague. The website of the book has a very helpful list of recommended books.

GPU Gems 1, GPU Gems 2 and GPU Gems 3. Chock full of cool stuff from rendering to physics to GPGPU. And available online on the book websites (1, 2, 3.)

Physically Based Rendering - From Theory To Implementation
Focused on ray tracing, with chapters consisting of theory followed by C++. Should try to find this somewhere and Build My Very First Ray Tracer.


Not really books about programming, but books with programming. I enjoyed them nevertheless.

The Wiz Biz
Wiz Zumwalt gets whisked away to a world where anyone can cast spells (though a good several years of training is recommended lest the wannabe mage fizzle themselves in the process) and where magic can be cast by written words. Small leap from there to writing a Forth running on the very fabric of reality. Also available online.

The Dance of Gods
A series of four books, wacky fantasy with a cast of trickster characters, multiple-viewpoint narrative and chain reaction plots. And it's CC licensed to boot.

And now that I've given you enough rope to hang your productivity for a week or two, I have some unit tests to write. 'til next time!
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Built art installations, web sites, graphics libraries, web browsers, mobile apps, desktop apps, media player themes, many nutty prototypes, much bad code, much bad art.

Have freelanced for Verizon, Google, Mozilla, Warner Bros, Sony Pictures, Yahoo!, Microsoft, Valve Software, TDK Electronics.

Ex-Chrome Developer Relations.