Ending Spam
Bayesian Content Filtering and the Art of Statistical Language Classification
By Jonathan Zdziarski
Publisher: No Starch Press
Final Release Date: June 2005
Pages: 312

Join author John Zdziarski for a look inside the brilliant minds that have conceived clever new ways to fight spam in all its nefarious forms. This landmark title describes, in-depth, how statistical filtering is being used by next-generation spam filters to identify and filter unwanted messages, how spam filtering works and how language classification and machine learning combine to produce remarkably accurate spam filters.

After reading Ending Spam, you'll have a complete understanding of the mathematical approaches used by today's spam filters as well as decoding, tokenization, various algorithms (including Bayesian analysis and Markovian discrimination) and the benefits of using open-source solutions to end spam. Zdziarski interviewed creators of many of the best spam filters and has included their insights in this revealing examination of the anti-spam crusade.

If you're a programmer designing a new spam filter, a network admin implementing a spam-filtering solution, or just someone who's curious about how spam filters work and the tactics spammers use to evade them, Ending Spam will serve as an informative analysis of the war against spammers.


PART I: An Introduction to Spam FilteringChapter 1: The History of SpamChapter 2: Historical Approaches to Fighting SpamChapter 3: Language Classification ConceptsChapter 4: Statistical Filtering Fundamentals

PART II: Fundamentals of Statistical FilteringChapter 5: Decoding: Uncombobulating MessagesChapter 6: Tokenization: The Building Blocks of SpamChapter 7: The Low-Down Dirty Tricks of SpammersChapter 8: Data Storage for a Zillion RecordsChapter 9: Scaling in Large Environments

PART III: Advanced Concepts of Statistical FilteringChapter 10: Testing TheoryChapter 11: Concept Identification: Advanced TokenizationChapter 12: Fifth-Order Markovian DiscriminationChapter 13: Intelligent Feature Set ReductionChapter 14: Collaborative Algorithms

Appendix: Shining Examples of Filtering


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ivan's review

By ivand

from Undisclosed

Comments about oreilly Ending Spam:

There is a lot in this book that I don't want to know e.g. the history. What is lacking are proper definitions of terms e.g. decision matrix, bayesian filter.page 76 is mostly meaningless, obviously some printing errors.

(1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)


Nice overview ... but leaves you wanting more

By valentin_nils

from Undisclosed

Comments about oreilly Ending Spam:

Ending Spam from Mr. Zdziarski is a well written BASIC and easy to understand INTRODUCTION to get a technical overview of todays spam fighting solutions on the market.

Also it is written on the cover that it is f.e focused towards developers, network admins etc. I would consider the target customer to be IT Managers, or other curious people who want to get an overview.

Thats what it does and it does it very well in my eyes.

The book provides simplified, abstract overviews of some available spam filters solutions.

The book is provided into 3 parts

- An Introduction part to spam filtering (Chapter 1-4)

- A part describing "Fundamentals of Statistical Filtering" (Chapter 5-9)

- an the third part describing "Advanced Concepts of Statistical Filtering" (Chapter 10-14)

Its a bit confusing that Chapter 4 has the same title than Part II. So perhaps Chapter 4 should have been part of "Part II" ?

The Chapters which I found most interesting were:

Chapter 4 "Fundamentals of Statistical Filtering"

Chapter 7 "The Low down dirty Tricks of spammers"

Chapter 9 "Scaling in Large Environments"

I am sure the author could have easily filled the book with Chapter 7 alone. The book is very entertaining and has a nice motivating writing style. You might at times find some rant about the spammers which I have chosen to ignore as it doesnt contain any valuable information or anything which I didnt know already. While I might agree to some of the authors views, I believe that the rant does unfortunately do exactly the opposite in my eyes and does give spammers credit to how they do their work.

I personally was actually looking for a companion book to "The Book of Postfix" to help me further explore new anti spam technology.

I was hoping to find overview charts, being able to compare different solutions,features, (dis)advantages. So in this sense, I was actually looking for workshop style instructions, tuning advice, troubleshooting advice etc.

The authors does explain f.e (Chapter 14) Collaborative Algorithms but he does not go into detail which products support the feature and how to perform the setup. He does provide some weblinks in his book from which the interested reader might further investigate the topic.

From reading the Chapter10 on "Testing Theory" its easier to conclude why the author doesnt go into more detail. If he would have done so, the book could have been easily 2-3 times the size.

I assume, this is partly due to the fact that the anti spam technology /products/market is still fairly young .


"Ending Spam" gives a very BASIC INTRODUCTION to the current available Anti spam technology and some chosen products. After you have read the book you have a first vague idea what type of solutions exist. You will actually need other books to intensify the "knowledge" you have gained here.

The fact that the book is written in simple terms makes it easily acessable for a wide market, however if you are a technichian you will perhaps find that the book just doesnt contain enough "meat" for you.

I would still recommend the book for Managers which need to know only the rough details, beginners, or a first time read for newcomers.

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