Generating Functionology
May 31, 2010, 6:41 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

During the summer theory seminar for my research group, I like to cover a topic that is mathematically challenging, but not something that any of us would normally learn about in the course of our day-to-day research.  This summer, we’re working through the book generatingfunctionology by Herbert Wilf , a mathematician at U. Penn.  This book has the marvelous succinctness of many great math texts, while somehow being more accessible and even periodically having a wry sense of humor (the “snake oil method”?).  Divide and conquer is one of the most powerful approaches we have for solving problems in CS (whereby divide and conquer I mean: recursion, induction, recurrence relations, etc.).  This book extends the applicability of that approach.

Plus, the book is free! A fully functional pdf is available at the above web page.


2 Comments so far
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I do the same thing ! it’s a great idea.

Comment by Suresh Venkatasubramanian

Yeah it took me a while to realize the importance of learning things that are not just on the critical path for the next paper. But now that I try to set aside some significant time to do it, I really like it. At the very least, it makes the process of doing research more fun, and I think gives confidence for attacking big problems: If I know this tool X that many other people don’t know, maybe I can use X to solve the problem.

Comment by Jared

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