Chapter 2. Working with Strings

Atoms were once thought to be fundamental, elementary building blocks of nature; protons were then thought to be fundamental, then quarks. Now we say the string is fundamental.

—David Gross, professor of theoretical physics, Princeton University

A computer science professor in the early 1980s started out his data structures class with a single question. He didn’t introduce himself or state the name of the course; he didn’t hand out a syllabus or give the name of the textbook. He walked to the front of the class and asked, “What is the most important data type?”

There were one or two guesses. Someone guessed “pointers,” and he brightened but said no, that wasn’t it. Then he offered his opinion: The most important ...

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