Understanding the Digital World

Understanding the Digital World : What You Need to Know about Computers, the Internet, Privacy, and Security

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The basics of how computer hardware, software, and systems work, and the risks they create for our privacy and securityComputers are everywhere. Some of them are highly visible, in laptops, tablets, cell phones, and smart watches. But most are invisible, like those in appliances, cars, medical equipment, transportation systems, power grids, and weapons. We never see the myriad computers that quietly collect, share, and sometimes leak vast amounts of personal data about us. Through computers, governments and companies increasingly monitor what we do. Social networks and advertisers know far more about us than we should be comfortable with, using information we freely give them. Criminals have all-too-easy access to our data. Do we truly understand the power of computers in our world?Understanding the Digital World explains how computer hardware, software, networks, and systems work. Topics include how computers are built and how they compute; what programming is and why it is difficult; how the Internet and the web operate; and how all of these affect our security, privacy, property, and other important social, political, and economic issues. This book also touches on fundamental ideas from computer science and some of the inherent limitations of computers. It includes numerous color illustrations, notes on sources for further exploration, and a glossary to explain technical terms and buzzwords.Understanding the Digital World is a must-read for all who want to know more about computers and communications. It explains, precisely and carefully, not only how they operate but also how they influence our daily lives, in terms anyone can understand, no matter what their experience and knowledge of technology.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 256 pages
  • 178 x 254 x 22.86mm | 936g
  • Princeton University Press
  • New Jersey, United States
  • English
  • 38 color illus. 51 line illus.
  • 069117654X
  • 9780691176543
  • 27,932

Review quote

"Kernighan offers elucidations of the diversified communications array of cell phones and land lines, internet protocols, the web, search engines, malware, cryptography, online anonymity, cloud computing, and the emerging 'Internet of Things.'"--Choice "[Kernighan's] credentials as a computer scientist are stellar but what comes through in this book is a humanitarian concern about the place of technology in the modern world. . . . The grounding [the book] provides in the fundamentals of computing and how the technology interacts with our lives will remain relevant for a very long time."--Steve Mansfield-Devine, Network Securityshow more

About Brian W. Kernighan

Brian W. Kernighan is a professor in the Department of Computer Science at Princeton University. He is the coauthor of ten other books, including the computing classic The C Programming Language (Prentice Hall). He lives in Princeton, New Jersey.show more

Back cover copy

"This is the clearest and simplest explanation of the world we now all depend on--how it works and why it does what it does--from one of our best-known inventors. Everyone on Earth needs to read it."--Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Alphabet Inc. and Google "This book takes the mystery out of computers and the Internet, and everyone can learn from it. With a friendly and accessible style, Kernighan connects what is happening inside machines to the news of the day and developments about the digital world."--Harry Lewis, coauthor of Blown to Bits: Your Life, Liberty, and Happiness after the Digital Explosion "Kernighan tells us exactly what we need to know about computers and computer science, focusing on ideas that are useful and interesting for everyday computer users. He covers a fascinating range of topics, including fundamentals such as computer hardware, programming, algorithms, and networks, as well as politically charged issues related to government surveillance, privacy, and Internet neutrality."--John MacCormick, Dickinson College "Understanding the Digital World provides a broad overview of computers and electronic communications for a general audience. The book flows smoothly from topic to topic, and readers from diverse backgrounds will find it accessible."--Bryan Respass, Bergen County Academiesshow more

Table of contents

Preface xiIntroduction 1Part I: Hardware 71. What's in a Computer? 111.1 Logical Construction 131.1.1 CPU 131.1.2 RAM 141.1.3 Disks and other secondary storage 151.1.4 Et cetera 171.2 Physical Construction 171.3 Moore's Law 211.4 Summary 222. Bits, Bytes, and Representation of Information 232.1 Analog versus Digital 232.2 Analog-Digital Conversion 252.3 Bits, Bytes, and Binary 302.3.1 Bits 302.3.2 Powers of two and powers of ten 312.3.3 Binary numbers 322.3.4 Bytes 342.4 Summary 363. Inside the CPU 373.1 The Toy Computer 383.1.1 The first Toy program 383.1.2 The second Toy program 403.1.3 Branch instructions 413.1.4 Representation in RAM 433.2 Real CPUs 433.3 Caching 463.4 Other Kinds of Computers 473.5 Summary 49Wrapup on Hardware 51Part II: Software 534. Algorithms 554.1 Linear Algorithms 564.2 Binary Search 584.3 Sorting 594.4 Hard Problems and Complexity 634.5 Summary 655. Programming and Programming Languages 675.1 Assembly Language 685.2 High-Level Languages 695.3 Software Development 755.3.1 Libraries, interfaces, and development kits 765.3.2 Bugs 775.4 Intellectual Property 795.4.1 Trade secret 805.4.2 Copyright 805.4.3 Patents 815.4.4 Licenses 825.5 Standards 845.6 Open Source 845.7 Summary 866. Software Systems 876.1 Operating Systems 886.2 How an Operating System Works 926.2.1 System calls 936.2.2 Device drivers 936.3 Other Operating Systems 946.4 File Systems 956.4.1 Disk file systems 966.4.2 Removing files 986.4.3 Other file systems 996.5 Applications 1006.6 Layers of Software 1026.7 Summary 1047. Learning to Program 1057.1 Programming Language Concepts 1067.2 A First JavaScript Example 1077.3 A Second JavaScript Example 1077.4 Loops 1107.5 Conditionals 1117.6 Libraries and Interfaces 1127.7 How JavaScript Works 1147.8 Summary 114Wrapup on Software 117Part III: Communications 1198. Networks 1258.1 Telephones and Modems 1268.2 Cable and DSL 1268.3 Local Area Networks and Ethernet 1288.4 Wireless 1308.5 Cell Phones 1318.6 Bandwidth 1358.7 Compression 1358.8 Error Detection and Correction 1378.9 Summary 1399. The Internet 1419.1 An Internet Overview 1429.2 Domain Names and Addresses 1459.2.1 Domain Name System 1459.2.2 IP addresses 1469.2.3 Root servers 1479.2.4 Registering your own domain 1489.3 Routing 1489.4 TCP/IP Protocols 1509.4.1 IP, the Internet Protocol 1519.4.2 TCP, the Transmission Control Protocol 1529.5 Higher-Level Protocols 1539.5.1 Telnet and SSH: remote login 1549.5.2 SMTP: Simple Mail Transfer Protocol 1549.5.3 File sharing and peer-to-peer protocols 1569.6 Copyright on the Internet 1579.7 The Internet of Things 1599.8 Summary 15910. The World Wide Web 16310.1 How the Web Works 16410.2 HTML 16510.3 Cookies 16710.4 Active Content in Web Pages 16810.5 Active Content Elsewhere 17010.6 Viruses, Worms and Trojan Horses 17110.7 Web Security 17310.7.1 Attacks on clients 17410.7.2 Attacks on servers 17710.7.3 Attacks on information in transit 17910.8 Defending Yourself 17910.9 Summary 18111. Data and Information 18311.1 Search 18411.2 Tracking 18811.3 Social Networks 19311.4 Data Mining and Aggregation 19511.5 Cloud Computing 19711.6 Summary 20212. Privacy and Security 20312.1 Cryptography 20412.1.1 Secret-key cryptography 20512.1.2 Public-key cryptography 20612.2 Anonymity 21012.2.1 Tor and the Tor Browser 21112.2.2 Bitcoin 21312.3 Summary 21513. Wrapping Up 217Notes 221Glossary 227Index 233show more

Review Text

"This is the clearest and simplest explanation of the world we now all depend on - how it works and why it does what it does - from one of our best-known inventors. Everyone on Earth needs to read it." - Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Alphabet Inc. and Googleshow more

Rating details

6 ratings
4.33 out of 5 stars
5 50% (3)
4 33% (2)
3 17% (1)
2 0% (0)
1 0% (0)
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