Friday, April 30, 2004

Books that read like a thriller...

Occasionally one finds technical books that, either because of the subject matter, or the style of writing, or some other inexplicable properties, make for such gripping reading that one almost wants to read from cover to cover in a single sitting.

Two such books that I have come across are Combinatorial Geometry, by Janos Pach and Pankaj Agarwal, and Jiri Matousek's Lectures on Discrete Geometry. These books overlap a little, but are largely disjoint in their coverage, and contain some of the true gems in computational geometry, like Helly's theorem and other theorems in convex geometry, the theory of epsilon-nets, a wealth of Erdos problems, and many many more.

I first read Combinatorial Geometry in grad school, and remember my advisor remarking that he couldn't put the book down. At that time I found the comment strange, and intriguing enough to look at the book. Five hours later, I knew what he meant...


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