1. Reference books


ISSN: 0368-492X

Article publication date: 1 March 2000



Hutton, D.M. (2000), "1. Reference books", Kybernetes, Vol. 29 No. 2. https://doi.org/10.1108/k.2000.06729bae.001



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited

1. Reference books

Keywords: Publication, Cybernetics, Systems, Computing

1. Reference books

With so much material available on the Internet, cyberneticians and systemists now question the value of investing in a range of reference books. For some a CD-version is awaited of their favourite ''library shelf'' books. Do you want to own the reference texts you use most frequently? This is yet another decision to be made by the busy researcher. Traditions die hard and it is surely true that most academics, for example, still prefer to read books when the opportunity arises. Reading information from a screen, however well presented, is not always acceptable, but may be necessary. The traditional encyclopaedia is still a convenient way of looking up information and there is still a pleasure in browsing through it. But never ask yourself whether this is the most efficient way of obtaining information, or by looking up a set of references and linking them together. However good the index, and even if the cross-referencing system is well thought out, it still cannot compete with the computerised interactive systems that even an ordinary PC can provide. That said, there is a text that is now in its fourth edition and probably adorns more desks than library reference shelves. Revised and updated for 2000 it is titled for the computer science field but is useful for all who use computers.

Encyclopedia of Computer Science (4th edition)Edited by Anthony Ralson, Edwin D. Reilly and David HemmendingerMacmillanMarch 20001,600 pp.ISBN 0 333 77890 (hardback)Price £125 (about $200)

The text is arranged alphabetically and the 660 articles are classified into sections covering the main themes of computing, and include: hardware, software, information and data software, mathematics of computing, theory of computing, methodologies, applications and computing milieux. It also contains what the publishers claim are extensive appendices, name and subject indexes. Its first edition, many readers will recall, was in 1976 and there is no doubt that it has been extremely useful to students, professionals (not only in the computer science field) and to many other "lay"' computer people. There is no reason to suppose that the new edition officially released in March 2000 will not live up to its past popularity and usefulness. We are told that the new version contains over 100 new articles which range from "artificial life" to "World Wide Web".

Information from Gavin Sproule, Macmillan Reference Ltd, 25 Eccleston Place, London SW1W 9NF, UK. Tel: +44 (0)207 881 8027; Fax: +44 (0)207 881 8022; E-mail: macref@macmillan.co.uk