SICP – The most divisive book in Computer Science?

Posted in Books by Dan on May 28th, 2009

Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs (universally referred to as SICP) seems to be mentioned whenever people are discussing the great/classic/essential Computer Science books. It typically generates a mixed response. Somebody recently sent a copy (anonymously?) to Python creator Guido van Rossum, apparently as a comment on his supposed ignorance (incidentally, this is an incredibly arsey thing to do). It seems that SICP is a real love-it-or-hate-it kind of book. Depending on who you listen to, it’s either a mind-bending classic through which true enlightenment can be achieved, or it’s dull, obvious and poorly written. The distribution of the reviews for SICP on Amazon (UK) is striking:

Amazon SICP reviews

If you haven’t already read it, you can decide for yourself. The whole thing is available online. I didn’t get very far the one time I started to read it. I quickly got bored with the introductory stuff, but I intend to give it another go sometime. I’ve seen several people recommend the associated video lectures, which may be a better entry point.