Literary Readings

I love to read stories, poems, essays, articles, autobiographies and any written material that captures my imagination. I enjoy reading books about Mathematics, Physics, Computing and Biology written for non experts in these fields. I am fond of reading poetry that is written for the masses and not a few who can understand intricacies of the language being used to convey the joy of poetry. Autobiographies are one of my favourite genres and I love to read autobiography of people who have stood the test of time. In this page, I aim to collect the list of all books, articles, essays, etc. that I have enjoyed reading.

Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid
I am still reading this book.
Turing's Vision: The Birth of Computer Science

During my undergraduate degree in computer engineering, I learned that any operation performed using a modern computer can be simulated by a Turing machine. I started reading this book to understand representation and operations of finite state automata and Turing machine -- the most fundamental computation devices. I hope that such an understanding will help me in developing methods to write computer software code that is easy to understand, fix and upgrade.

That we can simulate Turing machines on modern computers is not surprising. What is surprising is that we can design a Turing machine to simulate a modern computer, showing that Turing machines are equivalent in computing power to modern computers. -- Page 96, Chapter 6

I know that designing algorithms and understanding them are a difficult tasks but I had not realised that it is easier to design machines that run those algorithms. On reflection, this does make sense. A universal turing machine can only perform a limited number of operations (e.g. move tape head to left or right, read symbol from tape, etc.) and yet such a simple machine can simulate all the computing that humanity has seen so far.

it can be harder to design an algorithm than to design a machine to run it. -- Page 94, Chapter 6
in general it’s not the universal computer that is complicated, but the programming. -- Page 103, Chapter 6

I should have loved biology
This article explains in a beautiful way how the fire of curiosity can be kindled in every child by helping them ask questions rather than focusing on learning about the existing answers. This article captures the general state of teaching and learning across all disciplines.
The World of Mathematics
I stumbled upon this set of four books by James R. Newman while I was exploring the Mathematics section in the library of University of Twente during my PhD. This book made me feel that Mathematics is indeed beautiful. Sometimes it is difficult to understand Mathematics, not because it is a difficult subject but because the library does not have the Book that explains it in the simplest possible way. I have learned to keep looking for the Book and not give up on the topic that I am trying to understand. Here, I collect some of my favorite paragraphs from this book.
He would probably have been a greater mathematician if he had been caught and tamed a little in his youth; he would have discovered more that was new, and that, no doubt, of greater importance. On the other hand, he would have been less of a Ramanujan, and more of a European professor and the loss might have been greater than the gain. -- Chapter 13: Srinivasa Ramanujan
Gauss resolved to follow their [Archimedes and Newton] great example and leave after him only finished works of art, severely perfect, to which nothing could be added and from which nothing could be taken away without disfiguring the whole. The work itself must stand forth, complete, simple, and convincing, with no trace remaining of the labor by which it had been achieved. A cathedral is not a cathedral, he said, till the last scaffolding is down and out of sight. ... Few, but ripe. ... Shortly after his seventh birthday Gauss entered his first school, .... run by a virile brute, one Buttner, whose idea of teaching the hundred or so boys in his charge was to thrash them into such a state of terrified stupidity that they forgot their own names ... 'He is beyond me,' Buttner said; 'I can teach him nothing more'. -- Chapter 11: The Prince of Mathematicians (Gauss)
The Apology

This book by Plato describes the arguments presented by Socrates during his trial in which Socrates was charged with the following crime: (a) corrupting the youth; (b) not beleiving in God. At the end of trial, Socrates is sentenced to death by poison. There isn't a single written document authored by Socrates. His philosphical views were reported in the writings of Plato -- a student of Socrates. My grandfather told me several stories about Scorates and Plato. He often told me about Socrates unique way to revealing fallacies in the arugments of others by starting with a question. When I read this book, I clearly understood what my grandfather was trying to convey. I wrote an article about this book and a related painting and published it in my blog.

The Death of Ivan Ilych
Leo Tolstoy wrote this novel in 1886 and I read it in 2013 (after 127 years). This book inspired me to write The Life of a Dying Mind.
The Story of My Life by Helen Keller
Here is my favourite quotation from this book by Helen Keller:
During the first nineteen months of my life I had caught glimpses of broad, green fields, a luminous sky, trees and flowers which the darkness that followed could not wholly blot out. If we have once seen, "the day is ours, and what the day has shown." -- Helen Keller (Chapter I: The Story of My Life)