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Computer Programming Book Recommendation

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Bourcet
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I left university several years ago which included the study of several languages including Visual Basic, Java, SQL, ASP, HTML and Lisp, but was never comfortable in programming as there was no proper guidance when learning.

I remember one Java assignment whereby I had to create a simple program that did some arithmetic. I spent many hours frustrated not knowing how to do it, it turned out that a function was already available that was so simple to use, but I never knew where to look to see what functions are available and how you use them.

Every work I have read on how to program teaches you in one respect but not in another. It's like being taught grammar and then told to write a story, but never being taught how to write a story.

My hobby is programming in C, I'm starting from the very basics again but would like a book recommendation that will teach me how to plan and design a program and the stages you go through before you actually start to write the program and also while writing and editing it.

I don't want a book that will tell me what a variable is and how to create one, what a loop is and what a function is, I want it to teach me how to put all of this together, to plan and design a program that will solve a simple problem (such as how to create a program that will ask a user to guess a random number) and also difficult problems.

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I left university several years ago which included the study of several languages including Visual Basic, Java, SQL, ASP, HTML and Lisp, but was never comfortable in programming as there was no proper guidance when learning.

I remember one Java assignment whereby I had to create a simple program that did some arithmetic. I spent many hours frustrated not knowing how to do it, it turned out that a function was already available that was so simple to use, but I never knew where to look to see what functions are available and how you use them.

Every work I have read on how to program teaches you in one respect but not in another. It's like being taught grammar and then told to write a story, but never being taught how to write a story.

My hobby is programming in C, I'm starting from the very basics again but would like a book recommendation that will teach me how to plan and design a program and the stages you go through before you actually start to write the program and also while writing and editing it.

I don't want a book that will tell me what a variable is and how to create one, what a loop is and what a function is, I want it to teach me how to put all of this together, to plan and design a program that will solve a simple problem (such as how to create a program that will ask a user to guess a random number) and also difficult problems.

The answer is you have to read a lot of books and piece it together yourself. There is a lot to learn if you are serious about being good at it.

One of the most often recommended books is Code Complete, by Steve McConnell. That should give you lots of good concepts.

You might want to learn about algorithms, because perhaps the biggest part of programming is being able write efficient algorithms. There are many what I'd call "common" algorithms that all programmers should know, such as binary search algorithms, then there are algorithms that are specific to an area you are working in, say an algorithm to calculate lens thickness if you're designing lenses, or an algorithm to calculate quaternions if you're doing skeletal animations.

I read and listened to Steven Skiena's lectures on line, which I can't find any more, but his book "The Algorithm Design Manual" was written for those lectures. It has many valuable concepts in it.

Also, you might want to challenge yourself with projects. Start with small projects and work you way to bigger ones. Projects give you direction and focus for a good period of time, and force you to learn things. They also teach you how to prioritize what to work on.

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You probably are not ready for this series of books yet, but at some stage you should read Donald Knuths The Art of Programming Series. They are very technical books, and you will require a fairly good grasp of mathematics to get much use out of them, however if you can get through them they are excellent for helping you learn to plan programs (and to be a much better programmer as well).

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