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Is there a canonical book on mathematics for programmers?

I need your recommendation for math books related to computer science in these areas:

  • Boolean Algebra (Boolean logic, gates, state machines, etc.)
  • Discrete Mathematics
  • Probability & Basic Statistics

Please take note that i am self-learner, so please don't put books that is very hard to read or finish, i prefer book that is 300-500 pages more like an introductory book, also any recommendation whether or not the above list priority is correct, is highly appreciated.

-note: i am a self-taught programmer, so the materials in the first item in the list are very familiar to me, but i never took any formal course in it.


  • I know, but i hope i put my question related to the tags i specified.
    – Skystar3
    Apr 9, 2011 at 21:22
  • For discrete mathematics books take a look in 63201
    – sakisk
    Apr 10, 2011 at 15:48

5 Answers 5


I have a couple of suggestions. However, before I present the books let me add that they are not 'for dummies' and they won't teach you a thing unless you work on them doing at least a couple of exercises and really spending some time trying to grasp them. They will surely take more than '21 days'...

One of the things I usually do with some exercises is to try to implement the solution. As you probably found out by now the easiest way to know if you have understood something, is to implement it.

Enjoy and good luck!

  • This is a very good list for the stated reqs. I will say that although the Patterson and Hennessy book is very good, I found it dry and difficult to stick with the entire way through.
    – Kurtis
    Apr 11, 2011 at 2:31
  • I have checked the first three book's TOC & reviews i found them meet my needs, thanks.. except for the last one, user reviews was not that good, can you recommend a better one or more easier to follow?
    – Skystar3
    Apr 12, 2011 at 16:31

The first book that pops into my mind is Concrete Mathematics, especially for a self-learner. It would nicely fill the Discrete Mathematics portion of your journey. Donald Knuth is one of the co-authors. The content has been battle-tested in a course at Stanford, and it is as entertaining as it is educational.

  • 1
    I don't think that this is a good book for self-learners and non-mathematicians.
    – sakisk
    Apr 10, 2011 at 15:45

I highly recommend The Cartoon Guide to Statistics. It's accessible if you can handle high school algebra, but I don't know of a better work for gaining an intuition for working with p-values and other tests of statistical significance.


If you want to learn linear algebra (essential for search and information retrieval type work), I can highly recommend Strang's book: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Introduction-Linear-Algebra-Gilbert-Strang/dp/0980232716/ref=pd_bxgy_b_text_b


I would like to add:

Introduction to Algorithms

Discrete Mathematics and its Applications

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