Unfortunately the book itself is less than ideal for working through directly, it would benefit greatly from the polish of professional editing.
However, Gregor Kiczales of University of British Columbia has a absolutely top notch class he teaches based on the book. It's available free on EdX: https://www.edx.org/course/how-code-simple-data-ubcx-htc1x
Don't be put off like I was at first by the mass-market title ("How to Code").
Felleisen, M., Findler, R. B., Flatt, M., & Krishnamurthi, S. (2004). The structure and interpretation of the computer science curriculum. Journal of Functional Programming, 14(4), 365–378.
A key paragraph:
> Over the past few years, we have developed an alternative approach to teaching the first course. We have translated the approach into a new text book, and we believe that it addresses SICP’s failings along four dimensions. First, the book discusses explicitly how programs should be constructed. Second, to tame the complexity of programming, it defines a series of teaching languages based on Scheme that represent five distinct knowledge levels through which students pass during their first course. The levels correspond to the complexity of data definitions that the program design guidelines use. Third, the book uses exercises to reinforce the explicit guidelines on program design; few, if any, exercises are designed for the sake of domain knowledge. Finally, the book uses more accessible forms of domain knowledge than SICP.
But is it right to assume and teach that there is only one way to do it? Aren't we continuously finding out new ways of constructing programs, and isn't it useful and fun to figure out new patterns while constructing new programs?
HtDP teaches exactly that: proper construction of abstractions, small functions that operate over these abstractions and how to combine everything into a useful software.
(Just an example)
(Thanks where is due: to generate it I used ziptabs-extension + easypdfcloud.com + combinepdf.com)
If this was in PDF, I could save it on my tablet for offline reading during my upcoming holiday.
Now, I'll probably just bookmark it and forget about it.
Edit: Nevermind, found a similar question in one of the previous discussions:
Grasping for authority
A page turns
From the peanut gallery
The fields lie fallow
I'm not sure this qualifies
I'm interpreting it like: this book is acting more important than it is, you turned a single page, and then closed the tab because you thought it wasn't worth reading.
HtDP does this very well. It helps structuring the information and the functions around it so you can solve your questions cleanly. Compared to most programming books around that are either too tied to a language or too focus on known algorithms I found it quite great.
(Note: since Racket supports exact bignums, in a sense numbers are not atomic either! Only Booleans ;-)
Linked lists are not a fixed lenth. To add an element to a linked list, you allocate a new cons, point its car to the new element, and point its cdr to the old list. There is no "and then allocate a new, larger fixed-length list, copy everything over, and delete the old one" step.
That's all language-agnostic, but in Scheme specifically, the interface it provides for strings does not simulate arbitrary length, either. The only way to add onto strings is using string-append, which returns a newly allocated string.
Strings are mutable in standard Scheme (unlike, say, Java):
#;1> (let ((string (string-copy "foo")))
(string-set! string 0 #\b)
(let f ([ls args] [n 0])
(if (null? ls)
(let* ([s1 (car ls)]
[m (string-length s1)]
[s2 (f (cdr ls) (+ n m))])
(do ([i 0 (+ i 1)] [j n (+ j 1)])
((= i m) s2)
(string-set! s2 j (string-ref s1 i))))))))
I took a look at the online second edition (and I happen to have a hard copy of the first edition in my library). I like the book and believe that it is one of the best books I've seen for teaching a beginner to program. The subjects covered are non-trivial, but the book gets the students there in a well paced presentation. The book emphasizes the importance of breaking down problems into well defined parts, defining the interfaces, and implementing each part as a function that satisfies the desired contract.
If you are an experienced programmer, I believe that your time would be better spent on a book that is less oriented around teaching the basic steps that you already know. Books that I can recommend to experienced programmers interested in advanced subjects in programming:
1) Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs, 2ed., by Harold Abelson, Gerald Jay Sussman, Julie Sussman. This book will teach you how to program in Scheme, and you will learn much more than just the syntax. I would consider this to be a very demanding book for a complete beginner. Available online: https://mitpress.mit.edu/sicp/full-text/book/book.html
2) The Science of Programming (1981), by David Gries. This book and the smaller, but equally difficult monograph The Discipline of Programming (1976), by Dijkstra are great books but too hard and mathematical for many readers. They focus on verifying the correctness of programs and introduce a formalism that shows how the logical effects of each program statement can be combined to prove that the program satisfies its specification. There are practical limitations not addressed by these early expositions on program correctness, but the techniques covered can be applied by hand and I've often used them on especially troubling passages of code that I wanted to make sure were correct. If you are up for it these books will introduce new ways of thinking about your code. I'd advise taking a peek at the books before buying to make sure it will be worth the investment; it definitely was for me.
3) Learn You a Haskell for Great Good!, by Miran Lipovaca. Like learning Scheme, learning Haskell will teach you about a new way of thinking about programming. This is a nice introduction to the language. Even though I'm still trying to learn Haskell, this book was my favorite of all my books on Haskell (I've got all of the ones written in English). Learn Haskell to understand where researchers are exploring the possible futures of programming. This book is also available online: http://learnyouahaskell.com
4) Algorithms + Data Structures = Programs (1976), by Niklaus Wirth. This book is far easier on the reader than the ones I've listed above; I've included this book because it is just a fun read for any programmer. It's old and uses Pascal, but it still a great book on programming that introduces a number of algorithms and data structures. It's available used for reasonable prices: https://www.amazon.com/Algorithms-Structures-Prentice-Hall-A.... For a more advanced introduction to data structures I suggest MIT's Open Courseware videos taught by Professor Erik Demaine, https://ocw.mit.edu/courses/electrical-engineering-and-compu...