When I did my undergraduate studies in elecrical engineering, there was this book called "Basic Electricity" by Van Valkenburgh. If you read that book cover to cover, your fundamentals in electrical engineering would be bulletproof. I would recommend it all my juniors and I absolutely loved it.

Is there such a book in the field of computer science? I am not so concerned about the algorithms. I am looking more into something that tells me how does everything work beneath the covers. TCPIP, memory management, DNS, routing, SSL, buffer, queuing etc.

closed as not constructive by Ryathal, user7519, Telastyn, gnat, Walter Jul 2 '12 at 20:23

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    I made some edits to focus this on trying to make it explicitly clear that you are trying to find a single book rather than generate a list of resources. If any of these edits are invalid, feel free to make additional edits or roll back and make a new set of edits. – Thomas Owens Jul 2 '12 at 18:54
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    I don't think the term "computer science" covers what you want if you're not interested in algorithms. Perhaps you're looking for "computer architecture"? – tskuzzy Jul 2 '12 at 19:18
  • You're probably interested in something like "Computer Science: A Modern Introduction" by Goldschlager & Lister. Another one would be "Schaum's Outline of Introduction to Computer Science". But, as @dasblinkenlight suggested, you should focus on specific parts of CS and read that "bible" accordingly. For example, if you're interested in Algorithms, you'd probably have to read Knuth's tomes on the subject, or a book by Sedwick, or "Introduction to Algorithms" by Cormen, Leiserson, Rivest, Stein. – Astyanax Jul 2 '12 at 20:36
  • I will recommend this nand2tetris, they have a book called The Elements of Computing Systems – Timeless Sep 4 '18 at 2:11

Since the field of Computer Science is extremely wide, you wouldn't find everything that you are looking for in a single book. However, you could get almost all your fundamentals in order by reading at least one book from the topics below:

If you add an introduction to algorithms and a course or two on specific programming languages to this list, you would get your run-of-the-mill basic CS curriculum.

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    I think you should also include the importance of compiler and parser to this answer. Also the books and answer are quite thorough. – krishna_oza Sep 1 '15 at 10:43
  • Great answer! It was quite thorough. Any recommended algorithms book to fit in the list?? – Aminu Kano Apr 27 at 4:57
  • @darth_coder really? You have any book to recommend on compilers?? – Aminu Kano Apr 27 at 4:58

Conceptually Computer Science is a fairly narrow topic

Computer science or computing science (abbreviated CS or CompSci) is the scientific and mathematical approach to computation, and specifically to the design of computing machines and processes. A computer scientist is a scientist who specialises in the theory of computation and the design of computers.

Pure Computer Science isn't about most of the things you list that you want a comprehensive book about. There are many sub-genres that are part of Computer Science but they diverge very quickly from the definition above.

  • DNS, TCP/IP, routing, etc are about Networking and Network Management. This easily a multi-tome subject.
  • SSL is about encryption and secure transmission of data. Multi-tome subject as well.
  • buffering, queuing, memory management are about time and space algorithms are a crossover. Multi-tome subject on theory and history as well multiple tomes on implementations.

Strictly speaking Computer Science is a not really about the things above; it is about what makes those things possible.


It is a very broad topic. I wold suggest to look at Wikipedia - Computer Science .

Here you are structured paper on tis topic: Fundamental Computer Science Concepts


I recommend Computer Organization and Design by Patterson and Hennessy. It covers a lot of the fundamentals of computer architecture very thoroughly.


Sounds like you're looking for the "Computer Science Body of Knowledge". There's a Software Engineering BoK, but I'm not sure such a thing exists for CS. You may want to start with the undergraduate curricula at various universities. Computer Science Curricula 2013 looks like a good start.

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