A Little Java, A Few Patterns

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Java is a new object-oriented programming language that was developed by Sun Microsystems for programming the Internet and intelligent appliances. In a very short time it has become one of the most widely used programming languages for education as well as commercial applications.Design patterns, which have moved object-oriented programming to a new level, provide programmers with a language to communicate with others about their designs. As a result, programs become more readable, more reusable, and more easily extensible.In this book, Matthias Felleisen and Daniel Friedman use a small subset of Java to introduce pattern-directed program design. With their usual clarity and flair, they gently guide readers through the fundamentals of object-oriented programming and pattern-based design. Readers new to programming, as well as those with some background, will enjoy their learning experience as they work their way through Felleisen and Friedman's dialogue.

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Editorial Reviews

Michael Swaine

A Little Java, A Few Patterns

While in Bloomington, Indiana recently, I stopped by the campus bookstore and bought a copy of Matthias Felleisen and Daniel P. Friedman's A Little Java, A Few Patterns (MIT Press, 1998, ISBN 0-262-56115-8).

I try to keep up with Dan Friedman's books. I was his graduate assistant many years ago, and had a kind of epiphany back then when I read his entertaining and insight-generating book The Little Lisper (Scientific Research Associates, 1974, ISBN 0-574-19165-8). It taught me to think in Lisp. I readily admit that this is a skill not in high demand today, but I think of it like the Latin I learned in high school & emdash;it helps me to understand there languages.

This new Java book, like the old Lisp book, uses a rigid question-and-answer approach that you would think would be artificial and possibly annoying. But Friedman put it to brilliant use in the Lisp book. I was curious to see how it worked for Java, and what Felleisen and Friedman had to say about design patterns.

I should have known better.

If you don't know anything about design patterns, you will be better equipped to read books on the subject after reading A Little Java, A Few Patterns. You will have a feel for Java interfaces, the Visitor pattern, and the Interpreter, Composite, Template Method, and Factory Method patterns. But you won't be aware of having learned a darned thing about design patterns, since object-oriented programming and design patterns are never explicitly mentioned in the body of the book, except in cryptic footnotes.

Similarly, if you don't know Java, you will be much more familiar with the language after reading this book, but you won't have seen a formal or informal specification of the language, or even of the subset of the language that Felleisen and Friedman use. Any knowledge of Java conveyed by this book will be subliminal or osmotic.

Furthermore, you will learn how to work in the functional programming paradigm that Friedman prefers, and see how it complements the object-oriented paradigm, but without a word of explanation of what functional programming is. In short, if you work through the book, you'll end up knowing a lot that you didn't know, but you won't know what it is that you now know. That's because Felleisen and Friedman teach programming like aerobics. They leave out all the rules and definitions, and have you learn by sweating through short exercises.

Their method is called, or used to be called anyway, programmed learning, and I suspect it's long been out of favor as a pedagogical tool. It's tricky, it can be pretty hokey, and if it isn't done well it can be an awfully roundabout way of putting across complex concepts. But Felleisen and Friedman use it masterfully, taking care with the order in which subjects are developed, using redundancy and humor to good effect, even playing with the format for humorous effect. Here the answer starts asking the questions and cops an attitude:

Q: Here is the interface for PiemanM...

A: Isn't it missing p?

Q: We don't specify fields in interfaces. And in any case, we don't want anybody else to see p.

A: Whatever.

Whatever; it works. I found the book charming and instructive, a worthy companion to the authors' The Little Lisper,The Little Schemer, and The Little MLer. If you're trying to get the "feel" of design patterns, Java, or functional programming, you would do well to read A Little Java, A Few Patterns.--Dr. Dobb's Electronic Review of Computer Books

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780262561150
  • Publisher: MIT Press
  • Publication date: 12/19/1997
  • Series: Language, Speech, and Communication Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 196
  • Product dimensions: 6.90 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Matthias Felleisen is Trustee Professor of Computer Science at Northeastern University, recipient of the Karl V. Karlstrom Outstanding Educator Award, and co-author (with Daniel Friedman) of The Little Schemer and three other "Little" books published by the MIT Press.

Daniel P. Friedman is Professor of Computer Science at Indiana University and coauthor of The Little Schemer (fourth edition), The Reasoned Schemer, The Seasoned Schemer, and Essentials of Programming Languages (third edition), all published by the MIT Press.

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Table of Contents

Experimenting with Java
1 Modern Toys 3
2 Methods to Our Madness 13
3 What's New? 43
4 Come to Our Carousel 57
5 Objects Are People, Too 69
6 Boring Protocols 85
7 Oh My! 99
8 Like Father, Like Son 117
9 Be a Good Visitor 139
10 The State of Things to Come 161
Commencement 177
Index 178
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 7, 2014

    dan's book , nuf said ... 

    dan's book , nuf said ... 

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2001

    Not even good enough to suck

    Yech, this book is a mess. If you enjoy the 'I'm too cool to care if you understand it.' style of instruction this is you're meat. It's like buying a book on spelling and the only thing it has to say is 'Use the dictionary'. Just some guys who couldn't get anyone to buy Lisp trying to get in on the act.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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