[Kc] Book Review: Mastering Algorithms with Perl

Garrett Goebel garrett at scriptpro.com
Mon Jan 20 14:53:00 CST 2003

Mastering Algorithms with Perl
by Jon Orwant, Jarkko Hietaniemi, and John Macdonald

Mastering Algorithms with Perl is an intermediate to advanced text
describing traditional algorithms and data structures through Perl. It
assumes a basic understanding of Perl. And while the average reader will be
able to progress through the better part of the book with no background in
computer science, the last third of the book requires at least a passing
familiarity with Calculus, advanced mathematical notation, and covers topics
from the vantage those already initiated to Probability, Statistics,
Cryptology, and Number Theory.

That said, the book has something for everyone. Beginner and Intermediate
level Perl programmers will find the book's materials information dense but
approachable. Advanced programmers will find a well written refresher
illustrating familiar concepts in Perl. Given the breadth of the books and
the language specific insights, they'll probably learn a thing or two as

Topics covered include: linked lists, circular linked lists, garbage
collection, doubly-linked lists, infinite lists, binary trees, heaps, binary
heaps, janus heaps, sorting, searching, sets, matrices, graphs, strings,
geometric algorithms, number systems, number theory, cryptography,
probability, statistics, and numerical analysis.

I've found that while the book is somewhat daunting, it goes down best a
little bit at a time: read a chapter, then work through the examples. The
first time I attempted to read the book I got about a third of the way
through before stopping, scanning the rest, and putting it back on the
shelf. A couple months later as I was working on a problem involving graphs
and trees, the book came back down. And as interesting and complicated
problems present themselves, I often find myself reaching for it.

It covers an awful lot in 701 tightly packed pages. Have you ever wondered
how regular expressions work? Hashes? Insights into their internal workings
are in there. It is an excellent reference and fills a much needed gap. No
other Perl book comes close to the breadth and depth coverage of these
materials. That said, the first edition has a tremendous number of errors
and typos. If a second edition doesn't materialize soon, I would highly
recommend visiting the O'Reilly site to read the errata.

Garrett Goebel
IS Development Specialist

ScriptPro                   Direct: 913.403.5261
5828 Reeds Road               Main: 913.384.1008
Mission, KS 66202              Fax: 913.384.2180
www.scriptpro.com          garrett at scriptpro.com
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