Friday, August 28, 2009

Taschenbuch der Algorithmen

A long time ago I had visions of helping construct a book about theoretical CS for high school students, as I wrote about on the blog multiple times, such as here and here. I even wrote a draft sample chapter of my own on coding theory and practice. Strangely (at least, strangely in my mind) there never seemed to be much interest in it. A few people sounded vaguely interested, but not enough to coalesce into a group that would really push for the book. Disappointed, I left it aside.

At some point, some people (Martin Dietzfelbinger, in particular) pointed me to the fact that the German TCS community was way ahead of me. They apparently had started a Web site to promote algorithms, with a Web page written by a scientist roughly every week about some algorithmic type problem. They then managed to further convince people to turn those Web pages into chapters, and produced this book. Which, sadly (for me), is in German, so I can't really tell how it turned out.

I recently saw Martin at STOC, and he mentioned the book again; they were translating the chapters into English to produce an English version. After talking with him I said I'd be happy to "donate" my proposed chapter, and I sent it in for them to look at. Berthold Vocking gave me some corrections and told me they would include it; I sent in the final version yesterday. We'll see what happens from here, and I hope to have more to say about the book as it progresses.

I'm happy that a book of this form will eventually come out, though I wish there could have been more involvement from my peers in America. Perhaps I'll try again someday for another theory book of this form. Or maybe I'll start seeing if there's interest from the networking community -- a book on the past, present, and future of networking and communication technologies, meant for high school students, to inspire them to become involved in computing and communication.

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