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RFID Handbook: Fundamentals and Applications in Contactless Smart Cards and Identification, 2nd ed.

Klaus Finkenzeller, John Wiley & Sons, 2003, $125, ISBN: 0-470-84402-7

This handbook offers reasonably complete coverage of the fundamentals and applications in contactless smart cards and identification.

AIS (automatic identification system) is affecting two major areas today. First, in the field of e-commerce, such systems have renewed their relevance in the marketplace by playing a critical role in distribution channels from one end to the other, and connecting the physical and the virtual. AIS is used to track and manage goods and services seamlessly from vendors to clients. The second area is security. After 9/11, in this time of global unrest, this technology is being used in many settings, from the military to civilian airports. Identification of suspected terrorists and disguised bombs has been a major task for agencies such as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which plans to use biometrics to identify visitors to the United States.

Given these renewed needs, this book is timely, but the author neglects to cover these important uses and areas of potential. What the book does offer is an exhaustive look at the technology and its more traditional uses, covering everything about RFID (radio frequency identification) technology, from mathematical equations to international standards. It may be slightly dense for some readers.

Overall, the book is well organized and appropriate for the intended audience of students and engineers. It also offers a range of useful resources, including rich references and the author’s Web site, which provides a collection of useful downloads. It might have been better if the author had sprinkled examples throughout the book, rather than lumping them together in an example applications chapter. Another shortcoming, as already mentioned, is the lack of examples related to global security and e-commerce.

In summary, this book provides an excellent overview and detailed coverage of RFID technology. Although it lacks some important up-to-date examples of key applications, it is not too difficult to imagine the adaptability of RFID to many industries and government functions. This technology is simple, yet pervasive in terms of use. As we move ahead into an increasingly wireless society, this is an important book that I would recommend to my students and colleagues.—Dennis Anderson


Advances in Evolutionary Computing: Theory and Applications

Ashish Ghosh and Shigeyoshi Tsutsui, Springer Verlag, 2003, $109, ISBN: 3-540-43330-9

This compendium of research papers reports on advances in the field of EC (evolutionary computing), a branch of computing founded on the principles of natural evolution.

The fundamental characteristic of EAs (evolutionary algorithms) is that they mirror processes that occur during the course of evolution in nature. EC may be visualized as an amalgam, comprising genetic algorithms, genetic programming, evolution strategies, and evolutionary programming.

The book itself is made up of two parts: one emphasizing the theory of EC, and the other focusing on the application of EC to practical solutions for real-life problems.

Although all of the articles in the book were very interesting, two in particular—on scheduling the services of bus drivers, and on creating a program for playing checkers—were notable.

This encyclopedia of EC is part of a series on natural computing. It was written by experts in the field and is intended for readers who wish to understand the field’s latest developments.

Technically, the book is very sophisticated; readers must possess a sound understanding of the basics of EC to comprehend the subject matter. Every article in the book provides adequate pointers to the literature, however, so novice readers should have little difficulty using this book as a resource. The book is, therefore, useful for both researchers in the field and, possibly, as course material in advanced graduate courses. It is also a useful reference for practitioners who wish to implement the concepts of EC. It should definitely be of great help to students pursuing research projects or searching for a thesis topic.—S.V. Nagaraj

Reprinted from Computing Reviews, © 2004 ACM,


Originally published in Queue vol. 2, no. 3
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