The Universal History of Computing: From the Abacus to the Quantum Computer / Edition 1

The Universal History of Computing: From the Abacus to the Quantum Computer / Edition 1

by Georges Ifrah
     
 

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ISBN-10: 0471441473

ISBN-13: 9780471441472

Pub. Date: 01/10/2002

Publisher: Wiley

A brilliant follow-up to a landmark international bestseller. In this engaging successor to The Universal History of Numbers, you’ll discover the entire story of the calculation of yesteryear and the computation of today. From the invention of the abacus to the creation of the binary system three centuries ago to the conceptual, scientific, and technical

Overview

A brilliant follow-up to a landmark international bestseller. In this engaging successor to The Universal History of Numbers, you’ll discover the entire story of the calculation of yesteryear and the computation of today. From the invention of the abacus to the creation of the binary system three centuries ago to the conceptual, scientific, and technical achievements that made the earliest computers possible, highly acclaimed author and mathematician Georges Ifrah provides an illuminating glimpse into humankind’s greatest intellectual tale: the story of computing.

"Suppose every instrument could by command or by anticipation of need execute its function on its own; suppose that spindles could weave of their own accord, and plectra strike the strings of zithers by themselves; then craftsmen would have no need of hand-work, and masters have no need of slaves." -Aristotle. Called the Indiana Jones of arithmetic, Georges Ifrah embarked in 1974 on a ten-year quest to discover where numbers come from and what they say about us. His first book, the highly praised Universal History of Numbers, drew from this remarkable journey, presented the first complete account of the invention and evolution of numbers the world over-and became an international bestseller. In The Universal History of Computing, Ifrah continues his exhilarating exploration into the fascinating world of numbers. In this fun, engaging but no less learned book, he traces the development of computing from the invention of the abacus to the creation of the binary system three centuries ago to the incredible conceptual, scientific, and technical achievements that made the first modern computers possible. He shows us how various cultures, scientists, and industries across the world struggled to break free of the tedious labor of mental calculation and, as a result, he reveals the evolution of the human mind. Evoking the excitement and joy that accompanied the grand mathematical undertakings throughout history, Ifrah takes us along as he revisits a multitude of cultures, from Roman times and the Chinese Common Era to twentieth-century England and America. We meet mathematicians, visionaries, philosophers, and scholars from every corner of the world and from every period of history. We witness the dead ends and regressions in the computer’s development, as well as the advances and illuminating discoveries. We learn about the births of the pocket calculator, the adding machine, the cash register, and even automata. We find out how the origins of the computer can be found in the European Renaissance, along with how World War II influenced the development of analytical calculation. And we explore such hot topics as numerical codes and the recent discovery of new kinds of number systems, such as "surreal" numbers. Adventurous and enthralling, The Universal History of Computing is an astonishing achievement that not only unravels the epic tale of computing, but also tells the compelling story of human intelligence-and how much farther we still have to go.

About the Authors:

Georges Ifrah is an independent scholar and former math teacher. E. F. Harding, the primary translator, is a statistician and mathematician who has taught at Aberdeen, Edinburgh, and Cambridge Universities. Sophie Wood, co-translator, is a specialist in technical translation from French. Ian Monk, co-translator, has translated the works of Georges Perec and Daniel Pennac. Elizabeth Clegg, co-translator, is also an interpreter who has worked on a number of government and international agency projects. Guido Waldman, co-translator, has translated several classic literary works.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780471441472
Publisher:
Wiley
Publication date:
01/10/2002
Pages:
416
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.20(d)

Table of Contents

Part 1
Chapter 1Historical Summary of Arithmetic, Numerical Notation, and Writing Systems3
Chapter 2From the Particular to the General: Arithmetic Leads to Algebra64
Chapter 3From Calculation to Calculus69
Chapter 4Binary Arithmetic and Other Non-decimal Systems86
Part 2
Chapter 5From Clockwork Calculator to Computer: The History of Automatic Calculation99
Introduction99
1Human Calculation and Machine Calculation100
2Pre-Renaissance Obstacles to Mechanical Calculation and the Beginnings of the Breakthrough110
3The Calculating Machine121
4The Keyboard Comes on the Scene. From Adding Machine to Cash Register130
5From Mechanisation of Simple Arithmetic to Automatic Arithmetic on an Industrial Scale138
6Analogue Computation. Origins and Development154
7The Contribution of Automata167
8The Development of Punched-tape Solutions179
9Charles Babbage, his Analytical Engine, and his Followers189
10Developments in Electromechanical Calculating Machines201
11The Electronic Revolution215
12Fully Programmed Machines223
13On the Road to the Computer: Recapitulation232
14The Contribution of the Mathematical Logicians244
15The Advent of Set Theory254
16The Contribution of Alan Turing272
17Further Progress Towards the Computer with John von Neumann280
18The First Generation of True Computers293
19The Pocket Calculator295
Chapter 6What is a Computer?302
Part 3
Chapter 7Information, the New Universal Dimension323
Conclusion: Intelligence, Science, and the Future of Mankind348
List of Abbreviations376
Bibliography378
Index395

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