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A Brief History of Time


Stephen Hawking, one of the most brilliant theoretical physicists in history, wrote the modern classic A Brief History of Time to help nonscientists understand the questions being asked by scientists today: Where did the universe come from? How and why did it begin? Will it come to an end, and if so, how? Hawking attempts to reveal these questions (and where we're looking for answers) using a minimum of technical jargon. Among the topics gracefully covered are gravity, black holes, the Big Bang, the nature of time, and physicists' search for a grand unifying theory. This is deep science; these concepts are so vast (or so tiny) as to cause vertigo while reading, and one can't help but marvel at Hawking's ability to synthesize this difficult subject for people not used to thinking about things like alternate dimensions. The journey is certainly worth taking, for, as Hawking says, the reward of understanding the universe may be a glimpse of &"the mind of God.&"

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The computer hardware and software industry is committed to using formal methods. As a result, it is crucial that students who take automata theory and logic courses retain what they have learned and understand how to use their knowledge. Yet many textbooks typically emphasize automata theory only, not logic, thus losing a valuable opportunity to tie these subjects together and reinforce learning. In fact, automata theory and logic evolved hand-in-hand, yet this connection was severed in the '70s as separate automata-theory and logic courses became possible. Now, with computer science departments suffering from overcrowded syllabi, it is often possible for undergraduates to get a BS without having had to take a course in mathematical logic! Today's students want to know how knowledge can work for them -- learning theory as a tool is preferable to learning theory for theory's sake. To prove that theoretical tenents are not only applicable, but also necessary and relevant, useful examples must be presented. This textbook uses interactive tools throughout, such as simple BDD and SAT tools. By providing a blend of theory and practical applications the material is shown to be both inviting and current. Topics are also illustrated in multiple domains so that information is reinforced and students can begin to tie automata theory and logic together. They will also learn multiple uses of fixed-points, including BDD based model checking and understanding context-free productions. Having used this book, students will not only know and understand automata theory, but also be able to apply their knowledge in real practice.

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