A real-life Revenge of the Nerds, the tale captures some of the excitement of the day when a machine took a man to the...

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BEHIND DEEP BLUE

BUILDING THE COMPUTER THAT DEFEATED THE WORLD CHESS CHAMPION

A byte-by-byte account of the successful effort of IBM computer scientists to create a machine that could defeat a genius.

Hsu, who left IBM in 1999 to write and to pursue non-chess–related interests, brings a unique perspective to this task: It was he and his colleagues (first in Carnegie Mellon’s Ph.D. Computer Science program and then at IBM) who designed the hardware and software that ultimately defeated Garry Kasparov in a highly publicized six-game match in 1997. Hsu insists that this was not a case of John Henry versus the steam engine; instead, it was man-as-toolmaker defeating man-as-performer. Hsu portrays himself, also, as a reluctant warrior who initially resisted the Call to Adventure and entered the fray only when the engineering issues began to intrigue him (at the outset, he knew little chess). In his chronicle of increasingly fierce Carnegie Mellon academic politics, a competitor, Prof. Hans Berliner, doesn’t come off well as his chess-playing computer (Hitech) falls behind the system designed by Hsu et al. Hsu gives ample credit to his colleagues and tries to be generous with Kasparov—though the latter emerges as somewhat arrogant, petulant, pampered, and petty, not to mention a sore loser. Hsu strives admirably to avoid geek-speak (he tells us what cursors and pawns are), and readers who speak neither computer-ese nor chess-ian can still enjoy the building tension. Born in Taiwan, Hsu appends some autobiographical material—as if to certify that he is no cyborg (he seems reluctant to accept much blame for computer failures, which, invariably, he attributes to “bugs” or to time’s wingéd chariot hurrying near). A strange, inaccurate index lists some people by first name, some by last.

A real-life Revenge of the Nerds, the tale captures some of the excitement of the day when a machine took a man to the woodshed. (20 halftones)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-691-09065-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Princeton Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2002

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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