OUT OF THEIR MINDS: The Lives and Discoveries of 15 Great Computer Scientists


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Computer science is one of the most important forces shaping today's society and the future, yet it is one of the least understood. Who made the key breakthroughs and how did they do it?

OUT OF THEIR MINDS introduces readers to 15 of the planet's foremost computer scientists, including eight winners of the Turing Award, computing's Nobel Prize. The scientists reveal themselves in fascinating anecdotes about their early inspirations and influences, their contributions to computer science and their thoughts on its explosive future.

Cathy Lazere Why Did We Write the Book? Dennis Shasha

Imagine visiting Isaac Newton in 1690. You might ask for his views about inertial forces and he might tell you his memories of farm life in Woolsthorpe. It is the privilege of talking with the living Isaac Newtons of Computer Science that inspired us to write Out of Their Minds .



What the Critics Are Saying....

Out of Their Minds: the lives and discoveries of 15 Great Computer Scientists by Dennis Shasha and Cathy Lazere is a fascinating collection of profiles and interviews... Computer science in its modern form goes back only to the 1930's, and most of the pioneers are still alive. It is as if we could speak with Euclid, Archimedes and Galileo.

--L.R. Shannon, "Of Digital History," The New York Times, Science Times section, Tuesday, August 29, 1995


Would you like to become, or beget, a world-changing computer scientist? There aren't any hard-and-fast secrets of success, but judging from the brief biographies found in this book, computer geniuses are skeptical but broad-minded, curious and fun-loving, precocious as well as stubborn, independent to the point of being trouble-making. Don Knuth, a pioneer in computer algorithms, in eighth grade found 2,000 more solutions to a candy bar maker's word game than the manufacturer thought existed; Daniel Hillis, a founder of massive parallel processing, designed toys for Milton Bradley while attending M.I.T. Troublemaking? Yes, if that includes twitting authority, for the inventor of FORTRAN, John Backus, hated school so much he flunked classes, while Alan C. Kay, developer of object-oriented programming, was suspended from Brooklyn Technical High for insubordination.... Dennis Shasha and Cathy Lazere have written a friendly and informative guide to a group of scientists who have --- whether we acknowledge it or not --- greatly shaped the world we take for granted.

--Chris Goodrich, Book Review The Los Angeles Times, Sunday, November 12, 1995


Out of Their Minds is lucidly written, consistently interesting, full of beautiful insights, examples, and stories, and generally inspiring. Also, lots of fun.

--David Gelernter, Professor of Computer Science, Yale University, author of Mirror Worlds and 1939: The Lost World of the Fair.

See For Yourself

We have excerpted from the introduction and the beginnings of four chapters to give you a flavor of what's in the book.


A Small Sampling of Anecdotes


How Do I Order A Copy?

To order by phone: (US and Canada) 1-800-777-4643; (Other Americas, Europe, and Africa) (49) 30-82-071, Berlin office; and (Asia and Australia) (852) 72-73-96-98, Hong Kong office.

To order by email from the US, Canada, and Mexico. .

To order by email from anywhere else. .

What to Specify in the Order

  • OUT OF THEIR MINDS: the lives and discoveries of 15 great computer scientists by Dennis Shasha and Cathy Lazere.

  • ISBN: 0-387-97992-1

  • Publication date: August, 1995.

  • Publisher: Copernicus/ An Imprint of Springer-Verlag, New York, Inc./175 Fifth Avenue/ New York, New York 10010

  • Suggested Retail Price: $23 (U.S) $33 (Canada)

    Comments are welcome. Please send them to shasha@cs.nyu.edu.

    Ukrainian translation by Vlad Brown of STD Science - http://coffeehealtheffects.com/o utofmind