Books to Build a Company – Intellectual Nostalgia

When our technical team moved offices last year, I was asked to go through the shelves of books that had accumulated over a decade and a half, and sort out what books to keep. Technical books get outdated quickly, and most of what was on those shelves went to the dumpster.  Had anyone but myself been asked to do this sorting, a number of books would not have been kept. However, I knew that every one of these books was in some way critical to my thinking and background, and therefore critical to the formation of Controltec in its early years. These books form the foundation of our company. So I took this little stack and put it into my trunk. They left the company, probably unread by anyone, and they came back to my book boxes, where they are safe from plunder and discard. Here they are:

  • Matters Mathematical – by Herstein and Kaplansky. A math primer on number theory, permutations, group theory, finite geometry, game theory and infinite sets.
  • Discrete Mathematics in Computer Science – by Stanat and McAllister. Mathematical models, mathematical reasoning, sets, binary relations, functions, counting and algorithm analysis, infinite sets and algebras.
  • Robot Design Handbook – by SRI International. A treatise on how to design robots, with all the math you need, but the technology of 1988; you should see the digital cameras used.
  • Introduction to Robotics – by John J. Craig. I met John in San Francicsco. I was thinking about collaborating with his company, but it never came about. I didn’t read the book, but it was a good reference for the basics of robotic design.
  • Principles of Interactive Computer Graphics – by William M. Newman and Robert F. Sproull. Here is a 1973/1979 book where I learned everthing I know about computer graphics. You’d say it is outdated – thank you very much. But in truth, the mathematics has not changed one bit, and you could read and use this today to become a computer graphics expert. Timeless.
  • Elementary Topics in Differential Geometry – by J.A. Thorpe. I needed this for vector mathematics, which I needed to research for neural networks. It served as a reference only. The math is over my head.
  • Mathematical Elements for Computer Graphics – by David F. Rogers and J. Alan Adams. I used some of this to do graphical simulations of objects in 4-dimensional space, partly for computer art, mostly for visualization of the 4th dimension. It gave me the fundamentals for computing transformation matrices.
  • Practical Image Processing in C – by Craig A. Lindley. I still remember the bookstore in downtown San Francisco where I bought this in 1993. I used code from this book to do image processing when working on a license plate reading machine.
  • Statistics – by Donald Koosis. Statistics for a guy who never took at statistics class. I needed to know some of the basics.
  • Using Bar Code – by David J. Collins. In the earlier days of bar code technology, this was one of the bibles. We used much bar code technology over the years, and it all started with this book.
  • Elementary Linear Algebra – by Howard Anton. This was a text book in college in 1981. The linear algebra class was probably the single most important class I have taken in my career. It shaped my interest for years to come, and I am still intrigued.
  • The C Programming Lanugage – by Kernighan and Ritchie. This is the absolute C bible and any programmer of the C programming language has one in his library and will never let go of it. This is mine.
  • A Programmer’s Geometry – by Adrian Bowyer and John Woodwark. A highly practical guide to making graphical things happen from scratch with a computer. This is the book I needed to design and develop the software for a set of machines that cut and laid up composite carbon fiber tape for airplane panel manufacture.

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