A Year of SICP
On 1st of August 2011. I started a project which was to raise my programming skills to a new level of understanding the magic of computer programming. Somehow it turned out that it took me exactly one year to finish. On 31st of July 2012. I have finished the section 5.5 of the book. By finishing, I mean to do almost all exercises in the book and to try to understand every concept presented in the book. As I figured out towards the end, the goal of the book in fact is to destroy all the magic that incompetent eye could see in the programming job. Maybe better said, to lead the reader into the skills needed to bridle the core concepts of the domain and to use them as magician would do to produce magical things.
SICP (Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs) is a masterpiece of Harold Abelson and Gerald Jay Sussman on basics of computer science and software engineering.
My goal is to
- Read the SICP book
- Watch the MIT 6.001 course videos
- Do exercises from the book
- Keep track of my progress in written form so other can eventually have benefit from this.
At start, I used Heist Scheme interpreter written in Ruby.
After I passed more then a third of examples I have installed CHICKEN Scheme compiler and interpreter to run examples. It is better in supporting standards, comes with additional libraries that can be installed, it is MUCH faster and gives much better error messages with proper backtraces.
Also I used Racket for deeper debugging and analysis of the problems where needed. After I got some parenthesis parsing powers I did not need it that much.
Usually I go this way through the material:
- Watch the video lecture, or the part of it while taking notes
- Get through notes and clarify concepts and ideas explained mostly trying to reflect on them myself without external help
- Go through book and do exercises one by one. I save exercises in separate files where I add notes and reflections on them.
Of course, I don't tend to do this in one take, I do it continuously when I have free time but trying to dedicate as much time as I can to this so I don't lose the track of where I stopped.