Write Great Code, Volume 1

Write Great Code, Volume 1

Understanding the Machine
by Randall Hyde
November 2004, 464 pp.

Today's programmers are often narrowly trained because the industry moves too fast. That's where Write Great Code, Volume 1: Understanding the Machine comes in. This, the first of four volumes by author Randall Hyde, teaches important concepts of machine organization in a language-independent fashion, giving programmers what they need to know to write great code in any language, without the usual overhead of learning assembly language to master this topic. A solid foundation in software engineering, The Write Great Code series will help programmers make wiser choices with respect to programming statements and data types when writing software.

Author Bio 

Randall Hyde is the author of The Art of Assembly Language, one of the most highly recommended resources on assembly, and Write Great Code, Volume 2. He is also the co-author of The Waite Group's MASM 6.0 Bible. He has written for Dr. Dobb's Journal and Byte, as well as professional journals. His website is available here.

Table of contents 

Chapter 1: What You Need to Know to Write Great Code
Chapter 2: Numeric Representation
Chapter 3: Binary Arithmetic and Bit Operations
Chapter 4: Floating Point Representation
Chapter 5: Character Representation
Chapter 6: Memory Organization and Access
Chapter 7: Composite Data Types and Memory Objects
Chapter 8: Boolean Logic and Digital Design
Chapter 9: CPU Architecture
Chapter 10: Instruction Set Architecture
Chapter 11: Memory Architecture and Organization
Chapter 12: Input and Output (I/O)
Thinking Low-Level, Writing High-Level

Appendix A: ASCII Character Set


"Today's programmers can hardly keep up with the race against inhumane deadlines and new technologies; therefore, they rarely have a chance to learn the basics of computer architectures and the inner-working of their programming languages. This book fills in the gaps. I strongly recommend it."
InformIT.com (Full review)

"The first five chapters and the Boolean Logic chapter are worth the price of the book."
UNIX Review (Full review)

Article by author Randall Hyde
EDN, "Embedded-system programmers must learn the fundamentals," (Read article)

Write Great Code "explains in detail what most programmers take for granted."
Computer Shopper (UK), (Full review)

"Hyde is taking on a topic that continues to lie at the core of all development, the foundations of computer architecture."
Practical Applications (Full review)

"Buy this book. It is not only helpful to anyone interested in Assembly, but to anyone who always wonders how something works."
Dark Hybrid, March 2005 (Full review)

Write Great Code "contains a lot of information that the computer science classes don't bother to include."
Books-on-Line, March 2005 (Full review)

"Details the innermost workings of the machine at very complex level."
SecurityITworld.com, "New Reads for the New Year," (Full review)

Write Great Code "isn't your typical 'teach yourself to program' book. . . It's relevant to all languages, and all levels of programming experience. . . Run, don't walk, to buy and read this book."
Bay Area Large Installation System Administrators (BayLISA)

5/5 stars: "It fills in the blanks nicely and really could be part of a Computer Science degree required reading set... Once this book is read, you will have a greater understanding and appreciation for code that is written efficiently - and you may just know enough to do that yourself. At least you will have a great start at the art of crafting efficient software."
MacCompanion (Full review)

Randall Hyde interviewed
"Let's Talk Computers" radio show (Hear interview)

"This first of four volumes clarifies how computer systems execute programs and how abstractions found in programming languages map to the low-level hardware capabilities of the machine."
Book News (Full review)

"Great fun to read."
VSJ Magazine (Full review)

"Write Great Code: Understanding the Machine should be on the required reading list for anyone who wants to develop terrific code in any language without having to learn assembly language."
WebServerTalk (Read more)

"Dives right into machine organization without the extra overhead of learning assembly language programming at the same time."
Golden Triangle PC Club (Full review)


View errata for the book here.