Nine algorithms that changed the future
The chapter on public key cryptography is very successful in this, in that it shows the reader how to implement a simple version of the algorithm 'by hand'. The chapters on error correcting codes and on data compression are similarly successful, and the last chapter gives an accessible proof of the impossibility of writing a program able to predict when a given program will crash. I thought that the other chapters were less successful. Those on search engine indexing, pattern recognition, and databases are interesting enough, but not likely to make the reader think 'So that's how it works!'. That on digital signatures is too similar to that on public key cryptography, and I felt that the one on Google's PageRank really needed to mention matrices and eigenvalues to give any real indication of how it works.
Overall I felt that it was worth reading, in that it gives a readable account of some of the important algorithms we encounter, but that some of the chapters lacked depth.