Are you interested in Oxbridge Computer Science? Have you only just begun to explore computer science, and are looking for a place to begin your reading around the subject? Our further reading list will guide you to a few key texts, and useful places to start exploring.
Oxbridge Computer Science interviews have a similar format to interviews for Maths. It is not all about what you have read , but rather about how much you understand. However, computer science is a broad discipline, and not usually covered at school in the same style as at university, so it’s important to explore the subject a little, through reading.
It is important to have a broad overview of the subject, and to understand to some extent its interplay with society and other disciplines. There are plenty of great books you can read, or even skim or dip into, to help:
Computer Science Further Reading
Danny Hills – The Pattern on the Stone
This book is a great place to start for an engaging exploration of the field of computer science. It offers a readable overview into many of the essentials of the discipline, such as parallel computing, quantum computers and genetic algorithms. It also begins with a clear account of Boolean logic, something essential to computer science, which may arise as a topic of conversation in your interviews. This is a good foundation for your Computer Science knowledge.
Brylow and Brookshear – Computer Science: An Overview
This book offers another useful and accessible overview of the subject. It is recommended on a lot of pre-university reading lists, as it touches on many of the key subjects explored at degree level, such as digital systems, algorithms, and different programming languages. Some of the topics covered are more advanced, leading into undergraduate study, but it is a good overall look at the subject.
Jeremy Kubica – Computational Fairy Tales
This is another overview of computer science, written in an accessible and engaging way. Its made up of small bites of information, containing metaphors and allegories linking to the fairytale world, to help the reader understand the concepts explored. As it is more colloquial in style, some of the more mathematical elements of computer science are missed out, for maximum accessibility. It’s a good place to start, but it may be useful to explore one of the more technical introductions also.
Levitin – Algorithmic Puzzles
This is a useful book to read in preparation for your Computer Science interview, or before sitting the MAT or CSAT. It considers lots of different problems and explores analysis techniques for solving them. The puzzles included are algorithmic, and thus extremely relevant for computer science, but it is also a great book that helps you develop your problem solving abilities. It’s a book of problems, not a book to sit down and read in bed, so try and work through some of them before your interviews. They are all put into interesting contexts, and the wordy nature is good preparation for the style you will receive in an interview.
Daniel J. Velleman – How to Prove It
Proofs are little explored at school, but are central to studying maths and maths-based subjects at university. This book gives you a good taste of proofs: how they work, when we need them, and explores different famous and influential proofs. It also gives advice and tips for how to construct a formal mathematical proof, an essential skill on any computer science course. Although you are unlikely to be asked to construct a formal proof at interview or in an admission test, this book gives a good flavour of the maths at university-level, so is a good indicator of whether you will enjoy it. It is also definitely worth strengthening your proof skills before you arrive at university, and this is a good place to start!
There are plenty of excellent books on Computer Science out there. Don’t force yourself through something that you find boring – if you look around, and maybe skim a few books, you’ll find something that fascinates you. You’ll gain more from reading about a topic that truly interests you – and remember, the admissions tutors are looking for passion!
You might want to mention some of these books on your personal statement – if so, why not look at our guide to your Computer Science personal statement? If you’re looking for more Computer Science content, check out our guide to preparing for Computer Science interviews.