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> Shaw mischaracterizes K&R by making anachronistic assumptions about its intended audience and ignoring the context in which it was written. [...] Their book is properly judged by different standards than Shaw's educational project.

So you're basically conceding the main point: K&R is obsolete and unsuitable for education. I beg to differ. It's still a very good read that stands apart from today's clumsy, overwrought introductory textbooks. It can teach you a lot of tricks that are not easily found elsewhere, and does so at a speed that allows absorbing the whole thing in much less than a semester.




I said what I said, and I didn't say K&R was obsolete. Obsolescence of The C Programming Language is Shaw's claim. The aviation metaphor was intended to illustrate the anachronism underpinning Shaw's analysis. It is not a simile about technological progress.

What has changed is the size of the audience for C language learning materials. Until GNU/Linux, obtaining a C compiler required substantial effort for a typical computer user with AmigaDOS, MacOS, or Windows 3.x and 9600 baud bandwidth.

K&R uses examples to illustrate points. It was never intended to teach the art of computer programming. It recognizes that there are better resources for that - though I suppose someday somewhere someone will criticize Knuth for not providing a psuedo-code compiler on his website.


So you're basically conceding the main point: K&R is obsolete and unsuitable for education.

I disagree. I think OP was just saying that sometimes you might need more than one book, given that the original audience had pre-existing knowledge that tended to fill in the gaps. This might appear to be unsuitability "for education" within a popular marketplace of "Learn X in 24 hours" books, and make no mistake that this is the marketplace that Shaw is going after, so it's really a quibble about the level of expertise of your target market. "Rubes can't learn C from K&R." Yeah, well they never have.


If you also look at this metaphor

>Shaw criticizes the Wright Flyer by the criteria of Second World War aviation

it's pretty clear that the OP considers K&R obsolete and unsuitable for today's needs. It's not just that "sometimes you might need more than one book" - you wouldn't want to put the Wright Flyer in the same formation as a Flying Fortress.


K&R can teach you a lot of tricks. It also fails to teach you good security practices. In today's networked world, if your code has any chance of being attacked, I would prefer you to be careful on security to knowing tricks.




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