austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

Find questions, but no answers

As the term just started it was time for my first overdue books notice from the library. One of the books I had checked out was Numerical Recipes in C, written by four people (William Press, William Vetterling, Brian Flannery, and Saul Teukolsky, the last two of whom know their subject despite not being named William). It's the textbook for one of my courses, and I borrowed it from the library basically so I wouldn't have to buy it myself. Waiting in lines for textbooks are no more fun when you're faculty and can afford the outrageous prices. The book is a pretty hefty tome listing all kinds of ways to do different calculations so that computers can do them efficiently. So while it may not be great bedtime reading, it is in heavy demand as academic books go. That demand's heavy enough that when I went to renew it online, it turned out the book was already on hold.

Ah! But -- the science library had a second copy which was sitting on the shelves, which I admit is an odd situation if someone wanted the book badly enough to put a hold on it. So I headed directly to the library, turned in the book (and mentioned the hold, something I always feel compelled to point out, even though they probably know full well from the computer screens). Then I marched right up to find the other copy, and found ... the empty spot on the shelf where the book should have been. I checked the online catalogue; it was still listed as On Shelves, so, presumably, someone had taken it off the shelf but hadn't checked it out while I was waiting there. They update quickly; already they reported my former copy being on the Hold Shelf.

Still, there's always a way around things. Numerical Recipes comes in versions in many languages with the same text between programs. Numerical Recipes, without a language attached? Checked out. Numerical Recipes in C++? One copy checked out, hold on it, one copy on reserve. Numerical Recipes in Fortran? Three copies, checked out, one with a hold on it. Numerical Recipes in Pascal? Yeah, they had that. Four copies.

Trivia: Blaise Pascal, 1623-1662, invented an adding machine when he was 19 years old. Source: The Development of Mathematics, E T Bell.

Currently Reading: The Spanish War, GJA O'Toole.

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