The best books on the foundations of computing technology

Jeremy Kepner Author Of Mathematics of Big Data: Spreadsheets, Databases, Matrices, and Graphs
By Jeremy Kepner

Who am I?

Dr. Jeremy Kepner is head and founder of the MIT Lincoln Laboratory Supercomputing Center (LLSC), and also a Founder of the MIT-Air Force AI Accelerator. Lincoln Laboratory is a 4000-person National Laboratory whose mission is to create defensive technologies to protect our Nation and the freedoms enshrined in the Constitution of the United States. Dr. Kepner is one of five Lincoln Laboratory Fellows, a position that "recognizes the Laboratory's strongest technical talent for outstanding contributions to Laboratory programs over many years." Dr. Kepner is recognized as one of nine MIT Fellows of the Society of Industrial Applied Mathematics (SIAM), for "contributions to interactive parallel computing, matrix-based graph algorithms, green supercomputing, and big data." 


I wrote...

Mathematics of Big Data: Spreadsheets, Databases, Matrices, and Graphs

By Jeremy Kepner, Hayden Jananthan,

Book cover of Mathematics of Big Data: Spreadsheets, Databases, Matrices, and Graphs

What is my book about?

Today, the volume, velocity, and variety of data are increasing rapidly across a range of fields, including Internet search, healthcare, finance, social media, wireless devices, and cybersecurity. Indeed, these data are growing at a rate beyond our capacity to analyze them. The tools—including spreadsheets, databases, matrices, and graphs—developed to address this challenge all reflect the need to store and operate on data as whole sets rather than as individual elements. This book presents the common mathematical foundations of these data sets that apply across many applications and technologies. Associative arrays unify and simplify data, allowing readers to look past the differences among the various tools and leverage their mathematical similarities in order to solve the hardest big data challenges.

The books I picked & why

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The Fundamentals of Heavy Tails: Properties, Emergence, and Estimation

By Jayakrishnan Nair, Adam Wierman, Bert Zwart

Book cover of The Fundamentals of Heavy Tails: Properties, Emergence, and Estimation

Why this book?

What do pandemics, climate change, extreme weather, financial crises, wealth inequality, and social media all have in common? They are all well described by heavy-tail statistics, which you may have never heard about and were almost certainly never taught in your introductory statistics class. The Fundamentals of Heavy Tails is the first text that attempts to close this gap in undergraduate STEM education. This well-written text is a wonderful blend of intuition and rigorous results. The reader will be pleasantly surprised to learn that heavy-tail distributions are neither rare nor mysterious and are a natural result of multiplicative random processes.


Introduction to Algorithms

By Thomas H. Cormen, Charles E. Leiserson, Ronald L. Rivest, Clifford Stein

Book cover of Introduction to Algorithms

Why this book?

With over one million copies sold this may be the most popular computer science book in the world. This bedrock of computer science education is both a definitive textbook and reference book and is a must-have for anyone in the field of computer science. This latest edition is significantly updated and includes color throughout the text.


Unix for the Beginning Mage

By Joe Topjian,

Book cover of Unix for the Beginning Mage

Why this book?

Unix/Linux has emerged as the most common operating system in the world. Found on almost every server, smartphone, and network-enabled device, Unix plays a critical role in all aspects of computing. Unix for the Beginning Mage is a fun introduction to Unix for the novice who may be intimidated by other texts.


Boffin: A Personal Story of the Early Days of Radar, Radio Astronomy and Quantum Optics

By Robert Hanbury Brown,

Book cover of Boffin: A Personal Story of the Early Days of Radar, Radio Astronomy and Quantum Optics

Why this book?

A British term of endearment for a person engaged in scientific or technical research, Boffins have played a critical role in the development of our modern society. This book is the autobiography of the first Boffin who was essential in developing the radar system that won the Battle of Britain. Although nearly a century has passed, the “can-do” technical spirit of Boffins, Geeks, Nerds, and Hackers remains at the core of modern innovation.


Tuxedo Park: A Wall Street Tycoon and the Secret Palace of Science That Changed the Course of World War II

By Jennet Conant,

Book cover of Tuxedo Park: A Wall Street Tycoon and the Secret Palace of Science That Changed the Course of World War II

Why this book?

Perhaps an inspiration for Batman’s Bruce Wayne and Wayne Manner, Alfred Loomis’ Tuxedo Park mansion in a New York suburb was a hive of scientific innovation in the early days of radio. Inventor of EEG and ultrasound, Alfred Loomis would play a critical role in establishing the United States’ largest research laboratories: MIT Rad Lab (later Lincoln Lab), Los Alamos National Lab, and more which have conducted pioneering scientific innovation for generations. This biography by one of Loomis’ kin provides a unique insight into the development of modern “Big Science” in the United States.


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