Reading Classic Computation Books

By Susam Pal on 15 Jun 2021

Hello readers and learners! In the last few months, some of us from mathematics and algorithms communities of IRC networks have come together to form a tiny group that meets a few times every week and reads a book together. The focus of this loosely formed group is on picking reading material about concepts and technologies that have been around for a long time and have an air of timelessness around them.

In particular, we will not be chasing the latest trends in technology most of the time. But this is not a retrocomputing community either. For example, we are likely not going to talk about BASIC programming on Commodore 64. The topics we pick for our discussions are largely going to be topics that are still quite relevant and important in the field of mathematics and computation but they may not be what is considered to be mainstream. For example, we will read books like Introduction to Analytic Number Theory or talk about Common Lisp programming. Sometimes these topics may intersect with modern trends or retrocomputing but most of the times they would not. That is the kind of sweet spot we want to hit.


Here is a little bit of history about the community around these discussions. This community was born on the Freenode IRC network when I announced on the ##algorithms and ##math channels there that I would be hosting book reading and discussion meetings on analytic number theory. I created a makeshift channel named #susam to discuss the book and plan the meeting schedule. Several members joined this channel and we were ready to kick off our first meeting.

Our first meeting occurred via IRC on 4 Mar 2021. We realized that it would be much more efficient to discuss mathematics via audio along with a shared desktop session where we can use some software tool to scribble out and render mathematics formulas using LaTeX. So on the next day, that is, on 5 Mar 2021, we had our first web meeting. Later, after an announcement on Hacker News, some members from the Hacker News community joined our channel too and the community grew a little bit more as a result.


We moved to Matrix later and now continue to operate out of the It has now been more than 3 months since we began these meetings. Although our community is tiny, the meetings have been going on consistently and we have learnt numerous new and interesting concepts and theorems in the field of analytic number theory. In this community, we pick classics from the field of mathematics and computation and read them together.

Since this group was formed, we have made good progress with the study of analytic number theory. The meetings for this topic have been going on consistently. When I get some more free time now in future, I will add a few more topics for our meetings.

Join Us

Join the discussion channel at and be a part of these activities. See you there!