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Algorithmic Adventures

The ?rst and foremost goal of this lecture series was to show the beauty, depth and usefulness of the key ideas in computer science. While working on the lecture notes, we came to understand that one can recognize the true spirit of a scienti?c discipline only by viewing its contributions in the framework of science as a whole. We present computer science here as a fundamental science that, interacting with other scienti?c disciplines, changed and changes our view on the world, that contributes to our understanding of the fundamental concepts of science and that sheds new light on and brings new meaning to several of these concepts. We show that computer science is a discipline that discovers spectacular, unexpected facts, that ?nds ways out in seemingly unsolvable s- uations, and that can do true wonders. The message of this book is that computer science is a fascinating research area with a big impact on the real world, full of spectacular ideas and great ch- lenges. It is an integral part of science and engineering with an above-average dynamic over the last 30 years and a high degree of interdisciplinarity. The goal of this book is not typical for popular science writing, whichoftenrestrictsitselftooutliningtheimportanceofaresearch area. Whenever possible we strive to bring full understanding of the concepts and results presented.
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Table of Contents

The Development of Computer Science: Not Just a Driving Licence.- Algorithmics: What Programming and Baking Have in Common.- Infinity Is Not Infinity: Why Infinity Is Infinitely Important in Computer Science.- The Limits of Computability: Why There Exist Tasks That Cannot Be Automatically Solved Using Computers.- Complexity Theory: What to Do When the Energy of the Universe Isn't Enough to Perform a Computation.- Randomness in Nature: A Source of Efficiency in Algorithmics.- Cryptography: How to Transform Drawbacks into Advantages.- Computing Using DNA Molecules: A Biological Computer on the Horizon.- Quantum Computers: Computing in the Wonderland of Particles.- How to Make a Good Decision for an Unknown Future: How to Foil an Adversary


From the reviews: "A lucid exposition of fundamental ideas, concepts and methods of computer science, their essence and their limits, delightfully represented, and easily understandable for a broad readership. Scientific writing at its best." (Peter Widmayer, ETH Zurich) "This book originated from a series of lectures given by the author to describe what computer science is and what its principle Ideas are. Algorithms are the key concept of this book. ... The inclusion of problems makes the book more than a personal reflection. The style is lively and avoids unnecessary jargon. With a good teacher, it could be suitable as a textbook on the foundations of computer science in an undergraduate classroom." (Anthony J. Duben, ACM Computing Reviews, February, 2010) "This is a very readable book on theoretical computer science, written for nonspecialists. ... Practical applications are illustrated by examples from DNA computing and quantum mechanics. ... Summing Up: Recommended. Lower- and upper-division undergraduates and general readers." (M. Bona, Choice, Vol. 47 (5), January, 2010) "The author is an acclaimed computer scientist and he proves why: apart from being an aggressive researcher, he is also an excellent teacher. Using his ability to teach complex computing topics in an interesting way, he introduces to the reader the `power and the magic' of the underlying principles. ... It will certainly draw interest from both undergraduate and post-graduate students of computing and allied fields. ... I do recommend this beautiful book for a scientific library ... ." (Soubhik Chakraborty, ACM Computing Reviews, August, 2010)

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