poly: canonical texts

From: Michael Nielsen <mnielsen@theory.caltech.edu>
Date: Mon Jun 14 1999 - 02:47:06 PDT

What are the canonical texts which define a subject area? Having a
structured list of such texts would be of great use to those interested in
self-education, and could form part of the core of any good library.

Such texts should be well-written, provide comprehensive coverage of an
important subject area, and be correct. Moreover, such texts should be
timely, in the sense that they take a snapshot of a field at a choice
time when the field is relatively stable, and it is possible to set down
what is important and what is not.

A few suggestions for such a list:

Computer Programming: Knuth's "The Art of Computer Programming".

ELectronics: Horowitz and Hill's "The Art of Electronics".

Elementary Physics: The Feynman Lecturs on Physics.

Special Relativity: Taylor and Wheeler's "Spacetime Physics".

General Relativity: Misner, Thorne, and Wheeler's "Gravitation".

What other suggestions can people make for this list? What defines a text
as canonical? What would be the best way of structuring such a list of
texts, in order to maximize its utility as a tool for learning?

(This suggestion inspired by Stewart Brand's "The Clock of the Long Now".)

Michael Nielsen
Ph: 626 395 8431 Email: mnielsen@theory.caltech.edu
Fax: 626 793 9506 Web: http://www.theory.caltech.edu/~mnielsen/index.html
Received on Mon Jun 14 02:47:52 1999

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