Doorstop format for tiny topics

Microelectronic Circuits. Fifth edition - Microelectronic Circuit Design. Second edition
November 26, 2004

Both these books are what might be called “a total educational experience” in microelectronic circuit design. Each covers similar material, although there are notable differences in emphasis. The ordering of the content would suggest that the authors have slightly different target audiences in mind. Good students will certainly learn the subject from Adel Sedra and Kenneth Smith. Richard Jaeger and Travis Blalock, whose approach I prefer, seem to cater for a broader spectrum of starting abilities.

The problems of preparing a new edition of a textbook must be similar to those facing operating systems software developers. Should the original structure and philosophy be retained, as Sedra and Smith have done in this fifth edition, or should there be a seismic shift? Jaeger and Blalock’s upgrade to their second edition includes significant changes and the result pleases.

Anyone interested in the history of microelectronics might find that a comparative study of the content changes of the different editions of Sedra and Smith (1982, 1987, 1991, 1998 and 2004) would provide useful detail on the developments in this subject. GaAs and BiCMOS appeared in the third edition, while Spice was not integrated but was in an appendix. Spice is integral to the fifth edition, while JFETS, TTL and GaAs devices and circuits that are deemed less current or very specialised have been removed but are still available on the accompanying CD and on the book’s website.

These books are good value, but is there really a need for such an inexorable inflation of content? Online teaching aids are well established, and most students use the web as a matter of course. The publishers of both texts have gone some way by offering dedicated websites; Jaeger and Blalock call theirs an “Online Learning Center”. But if most of the content was accessible online using a unique key contained in a slimmed-down hard-copy facilitation-medium/revision-guide,
publishers could deprive students in university residences of a useful doorstop without loss of revenue.

Donard de Cogan is reader in computing, University of East Anglia.

Microelectronic Circuits. Fifth edition

Author - Adel S. Sedra and Kenneth C. Smith
Publisher - Oxford University Press
Pages - 1,283
Price - £70.00 and £37.99
ISBN - 0 19 514251 9 and 514252 7

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