The Structure and Interpretation of *

For a while now I’ve been meaning to note a couple links that may be of interest.  Some computer science undergrads are familiar with a happy-little purple book by Abelson and Sussman titled The Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs (SICP, pronounced “sick-pea”) [1].   For those of you who don’t know, if you click on that last link, you’ll notice the entire text is available online, which is great because this book is a superb reference (at least it has been for me).  SICP is known for its usage of a LISP-like variant: Scheme to introduce a precocious individual to computer science.

If you can get through that and an introductory classical mechanics course, then why not learn about classical mechanics vis-a-vis Scheme?  Also available online, The Structure and Interpretation of Classical Mechanics (SICM or “sick-’em”, I presume).
[1] Sadly, most schools that adopt MIT’s SICP program probably teach the course with some pretension as the first (or one of the first) computer science course for undergrads.  While the upper-echelon students enjoy and potentially fly through the material, most well-intentioned and eager students seem to become disenchanted with the complexity and challenge of the material.  I appreciate the rationale for teaching this sooner than later: this book is a great intro to real computer science, not for-loops and try-catch statements.  That being said, perhaps a lighter introduction with the book is in order, because even the best of students will just scrape at the surface of the cool stuff in it.

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