Data Abstraction and Problem Solving with Java: Walls and Mirrors (3rd Edition)

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ISBN9780132122306/ 9780201702200
AuthorsJanet Prichard, Frank M. Carrano


In the dynamic landscape of computer science and programming, mastering the art of data abstraction and effective problem-solving is paramount. One invaluable resource that has stood the test of time and continues to empower aspiring programmers is the book Walls and Mirrors: Principles of Data Abstraction and Problem Solving with Java, now in its 3rd edition. This comprehensive guide offers a deep dive into the world of data abstraction, providing readers with a solid foundation for tackling complex challenges through systematic and elegant problem-solving techniques.

Chapter 1: The Essence of Abstraction

At the heart of Walls and Mirrors lies the concept of abstraction. The authors introduce the idea that successful problem-solving involves building “walls” to separate different aspects of a problem, while also creating “mirrors” to reflect relevant information back. This metaphor emphasizes the significance of identifying and isolating key elements of a problem to facilitate a clearer understanding. Through concrete examples and insightful explanations, readers are initiated into the mindset of an abstraction-driven programmer.

Chapter 2: The Java Toolbox

A problem-solving journey necessitates a set of reliable tools. The 3rd edition of “Walls and Mirrors” equips readers with the Java programming language, which serves as a versatile toolkit for implementing data abstraction principles. The authors guide readers through Java’s fundamental concepts, syntax, and features, ensuring that they possess the necessary skills to express abstract ideas in a concrete programming language.

Chapter 3: Objects and Classes – Building Your Foundation

The book delves into the core of data abstraction by exploring objects and classes. By defining classes, encapsulating data, and providing methods for interaction, programmers create a blueprint for structuring their solutions. Through real-world examples and engaging exercises, readers gain a profound understanding of how to model complex problems using objects and classes.

Chapter 4: The Power of Inheritance

Inheritance, a fundamental principle of object-oriented programming, is unveiled as a powerful tool for building upon existing abstractions. The authors illustrate how to create hierarchies of classes, leveraging shared attributes and behaviors while allowing for specialization. With clear explanations and hands-on exercises, readers learn to harness the flexibility and efficiency of inheritance to craft elegant solutions.

Chapter 5: Interfaces and Abstract Classes

Walls and Mirrors continues its exploration of abstraction by introducing interfaces and abstract classes. These constructs enable programmers to define contracts and establish common behaviors without committing to a specific implementation. Through case studies and practical examples, readers discover how interfaces and abstract classes facilitate modular design and promote code reuse.

Chapter 6: Recursion – Solving Problems Through Self-Similarity

Recursion, a captivating concept in problem-solving, is thoroughly demystified in this edition. The authors guide readers through the process of designing recursive algorithms, emphasizing the importance of identifying base cases and recursive cases. By dissecting problems into smaller, self-similar subproblems, programmers develop an intuitive approach to tackling complex challenges.

Chapter 7: Lists and Iterators – Navigating Collections Effectively

The 3rd edition of Walls and Mirrors recognizes the significance of working with collections of data. Readers are introduced to lists and iterators, essential tools for managing and traversing collections efficiently. Through hands-on examples and practical scenarios, programmers learn to manipulate data structures, paving the way for elegant and optimized problem-solving.

Chapter 8: Sorting and Searching – Unveiling Order from Chaos

Sorting and searching algorithms take center stage as the authors delve into techniques for organizing and retrieving information. The book showcases various sorting algorithms and elucidates their strengths and weaknesses, empowering readers to select the most suitable approach for a given problem. Furthermore, the art of binary searching is unveiled, offering a powerful method for efficiently locating elements within sorted data sets.

Chapter 9: Algorithm Efficiency – Balancing Time and Space

Efficiency is a cornerstone of effective problem-solving. Walls and Mirrors equips readers with the tools to analyze and optimize their algorithms, striking a delicate balance between time complexity and space complexity. Through insightful discussions and performance evaluations, programmers gain a deeper understanding of algorithmic efficiency, enabling them to craft solutions that scale to meet the demands of real-world scenarios.


The 3rd edition of Walls and Mirrors: Principles of Data Abstraction and Problem Solving with Java stands as a timeless resource for aspiring programmers and seasoned professionals alike. Its comprehensive exploration of data abstraction, problem-solving techniques, and the Java programming language empowers readers to construct elegant, efficient, and scalable solutions. By embracing the principles outlined in this book, programmers embark on a transformative journey, one that nurtures the art of abstraction and equips them with the tools needed to conquer the complexities of the digital realm.

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Written by Jordan Farrell

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