I’m off twitter, and that means more short posts here. Do fun book reviews from the SIGACT News deserve more than 140 characters? I don’t know, but my productivity has gone up since I stopped getting tweeted at. Feel free to read the following in a shrill chirp, however.
SIGACT News has a book review column that I scan when I have time. This month they reviewed two books I’ve had my eye on: Combinatorics the Rota way and Logicomix. I’m sure I’ll read both of these when I have time, and pretty sure I want to own both. I’m a bit less excited about the Rota book after reading the review, though, since I was hoping it was a textbook version of his intro probability course, which I loved. It sounds like it is a reference book version of his grad combinatorics course, which I was too busy to finish. So maybe I shouldn’t be disappointed, it’s actually a chance for me to learn new things. It does sound hard, though:
The book works best as a second read of the topics covered. If you already know of a combinatorial method, like Polya’s Enumeration Theory, this book is a good place to find the starting point for an alternate and powerful treatment of the topic. The book admits to not being self contained, and has a few forward-reference problems. However, this is forgivable when you realize the goal of this book is not to teach some easy discrete mathematics before you move on to analysis, but to extract the important combinatorial methods and themes from all of mathematics.