Review of Scientific Pascal by Harley Flanders 
Author Message
 Review of Scientific Pascal by Harley Flanders

Note:  I originally posted this to comp.lang.Pascal.mac several weeks
ago, and it was pointed out that it made even more sense to post
it to comp.lang.pascal.borland and  comp.lang.pascal.delphi.misc.

   There have been frequent requests for recommendations of good
Pascal books on comp.lang.pascal.mac, and since I have just recently
come across one I like very much, I thought I would write a short
review of it. The book is:

Title:     Scientific Pascal
Author:    Harley Flanders
Publisher: Birkhauser, Boston
ISBN:      0-8176-3760-5
Copyright: 1996

   Harley Flanders is a Professor of Mathematics at the University
of Michigan, and I have long had a nodding acquaintance with him
and knew some of his other books on pure mathematics, but I was quite
surprised to find that he was a Pascal expert as well.

   First some things the book is not---

1)   In my mind it is not suitable as a first text on programming.

    While the first three chapters (124 pages) do give a complete
introduction to programming in Pascal, starting from scratch, it goes
too fast for a real beginner. On the other hand, for someone who has
had some prior experience with programming, perhaps in another language,
these chapters would be an excellent way to learn serious programming
concepts and good style in Pascal.

2)  It is not a book in which you will learn to program the Macintosh
    user interface.

    In fact, the book is aimed at those using Turbo Pascal on MS DOS machines!
But this is essentially irrelevant. The great bulk of the code consists of
algorithms that are independent of any GUI or operating system specifics.

  And that in my mind is the real strength of this book. It is chock-full of
useful, carefully coded (and carefully documented), real-world algorithms
that can be used by any mathematically literate scientist or engineer. In  
that sense it is comparable to Numerical Recipes in Pascal---except that
Flander's code is far better than the really ugly Pascal in NMP, which is
apparently machine translated from fortran. (And Numerical Recipes no longer
supports Pascal---they never wrote a Second Edition of Numerical Recipes
in Pascal, although the C and Fortran volumes appeared long ago).

  Of course the disc that accompanies the book is DOS formatted, but I found
it easy to first expand the .exe file (containing all the programs and units)
on a PC, and then do an ftp to a MAC, where the folder containing them occupies
1.3 MBytes!---in fact just the table of contents file, listing all the units and
programs is 34K.

  I could not begin to list all the algorithms without having this review
become to long, but let it suffice to say that they include all the common
sorting algorithms, algorithms for searching and parsing, most of the standard
numerical algorithms (for root finding, numerical quadrature, solving initial
value ODE problems, finding eigenvalues of ODE by shooting methods, orthogonal
polynomials, FFT), numerical linear algebra (Gaussian elimination, QR,
eigenvalues,
sparse matrix algorithms), number theory (GCD's, residues, prime sieves)
discrete
mathematics (permutations and combinations) random number generators and Monte
Carlo methods, genetic algorithms, multi-precision arithmetic, graphics
algorithms,
fractal generators, recursive algorithms, Conways "Game of Life"---well,
you get
the idea, the list is virtually endless.

   Have a look. You'll be glad you did.

      R. Palais

--
Richard S. Palais  Dept. of Mathematics Brandeis Univ.

Home Page: http://www.*-*-*.com/



Wed, 18 Jun 1902 08:00:00 GMT  
 
 [ 1 post ] 

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