Harry R. Lewis

Harry R. Lewis is Gordon McKay Research Professor of Computer Science at Harvard University.

  • Ideas That Created the Future

    Ideas That Created the Future

    Classic Papers of Computer Science

    Harry R. Lewis

    Classic papers by thinkers ranging from Aristotle and Leibniz to Norbert Wiener and Gordon Moore that chart the evolution of computer science.

    Ideas That Created the Future collects forty-six classic papers in computer science that map the evolution of the field. It covers all aspects of computer science: theory and practice, architectures and algorithms, and logic and software systems, with an emphasis on the period of 1936–1980 but also including important earlier work. Offering papers by thinkers ranging from Aristotle and Leibniz to Alan Turing and Nobert Wiener, the book documents the discoveries and inventions that created today's digital world. A brief essay by volume editor Harry Lewis, offering historical and intellectual context, accompanies each paper.

    Readers will learn that we owe to Aristotle the realization that fixed rules of logic can apply to different phenomena—that logic provides a general framework for reasoning—and that Leibniz recognized the merits of binary notation. They can read Ada Lovelace's notes on L. F. Menabrea's sketch of an analytical engine, George Boole's attempt to capture the rules of reason in mathematical form, David Hilbert's famous 1900 address, “Mathematical Problems,” and Alan Turing's illumination of a metamathematical world. Later papers document the “Cambrian era” of 1950s computer design, Maurice Wilkes's invention of microcode, Grace Hopper's vision of a computer's “education,” Ivan Sutherland's invention of computer graphics at MIT, Whitfield Diffie and Martin Hellman's pioneering work on encryption, and much more. Lewis's guided tour of a burgeoning field is especially welcome at a time when computer education is increasingly specialized.

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