Think Java

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Think Java
How to Think Like a Computer Scientist

Allen B. Downey


Copyright ➞ 2012 Allen Downey.
Permission is granted to copy, distribute, transmit and adapt this work under
a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported
If you are interested in distributing a commercial version of this work, please
contact Allen B. Downey.
The original form of this book is LATEX source code. Compiling this LATEX
source has the effect of generating a device-independent representation of the
book, which can be converted to other formats and printed.
The LATEX source for this book is available from: 
This book was typeset using LATEX. The illustrations were drawn in xfig. All
of these are free, open-source programs.

“As we enjoy great Advantages from the Inventions of others, we
should be glad of an Opportunity to serve others by any Invention
of ours, and this we should do freely and generously.”
—Benjamin Franklin, quoted in Benjamin Franklin by Edmund
S. Morgan.

Why I wrote this book
This is the fifth edition of a book I started writing in 1999, when I was
teaching at Colby College. I had taught an introductory computer science
class using the Java programming language, but I had not found a textbook
I was happy with. For one thing, they were all too big! There was no way my
students would read 800 pages of dense, technical material, even if I wanted
them to. And I didn’t want them to. Most of the material was too specific—
details about Java and its libraries that would be obsolete by the end of the
semester, and that obscured the material I really wanted to get to.
The other problem I found was that the introduction to object-oriented programming was too abrupt. Many students who were otherwise doing well
just hit a wall when we got to objects, whether we did it at the beginning,
middle or end.
So I started writing. I wrote a chapter a day for 13 days, and on the 14th
day I edited. Then I sent it to be photocopied and bound. When I handed it
out on the first day of class, I told the students that they would be expected
to read one chapter a week. In other words, they would read it seven times
slower than I wrote it.


Chapter 0. Preface

The philosophy behind it
Here are some of the ideas that make the book the way it is:
❼ Vocabulary is important. Students need to be able to talk about programs and understand what I am saying. I try to introd...
Think Java
How to Think Like a Computer Scientist
Allen B. Downey
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