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Biographies: A Conversation with Don Knuth

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000129398D
Original Publication Date: 1982-Jul-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-05
Document File: 21 page(s) / 81K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

DONALD J. ALBERS: AUTHOR [+3]

Abstract

The following is an informal verbatim interview, a modern form of biography made possible by the technological development of the cheap, portable, reliable tape recorder. It is autobiographical in that the subject tells his story in his own words, and it is biographical in that the interviewers guide the talk with their questions.

This text was extracted from a PDF file.
This is the abbreviated version, containing approximately 4% of the total text.

Page 1 of 21

THIS DOCUMENT IS AN APPROXIMATE REPRESENTATION OF THE ORIGINAL.

Copyright ©; 1982 by the American Federation of Information Processing Societies, Inc. Used with permission.

Biographies: A Conversation with Don Knuth

DONALD J. ALBERS

LYNN ARTHUR STEEN

(Image Omitted: Reprinted with the pervasion of the Two-Year College Mathematics Journal, an official publication of the Mathematical Association of America. Authors' Address: Two- Year College Mathematics Journal, Memo College, Memo Park, CA 94025. Categories and Subject Descriptors: A.O [General] -- biographies, D. E. Knuth; K.2 [History of Computing] -- D. E. Knuth. General Tenns: Algorithms, Human Factors AFIPS0164-1239/82/030257-274/00)

Editor's Note

The following is an informal verbatim interview, a modern form of biography made possible by the technological development of the cheap, portable, reliable tape recorder. It is autobiographical in that the subject tells his story in his own words, and it is biographical in that the interviewers guide the talk with their questions.

The Annals is reprinting this interview, more a monologue than a conversation, because Donald
E. Knuth is one of the giants of computing. We would like to understand how he developed, what he thought, and how he came by this idea or that as he created his many contributions, not the least of which is the brilliant clarity and comprehensiveness with which he has expressed and explained them. Reprinting is also justified because of the very small intersection between the readership of the Annals and the Two-Year College Mathematics Journal, the original publisher. -- Eric A. Weiss

As a high school senior in Milwaukee, Donald E. Knuth had doubts about his ability to graduate from college. Four years later he received his B.S. in mathematics, summa cum laude, from the Case Institute of Technology in 1960. His work had been so distinguished that by a special (unprecedented) vote of the faculty he was simultaneously awarded an M.S. degree. In 1963 he received his Ph.D. in mathematics from the California Institute of Technology. Over the years he has received many prestigious awards. In 1979, at age 41, he was awarded the National Medal of Science by President Carter.

By any measure, Don Knuth is a remarkable man. He is generally regarded as the preeminent scholar of computer science in the world. He also is an accomplished organist, composer, and novelist.

He is a prolific writer on a host of topics, and he has contributed to an unusually large number of publications. His first publication was for MAD Magazine. Since then he has written for Datamation, the Journal of Recreational Mathematics, the American Mathematical Monthly, and dozens of other mathematics and computer science journals such as Acta Arithmetica and Acta Informatica. He is best known for his monumental series of books, The Art of Computer Programming, which has been translated into several languages, ranging from Chinese to Russian. Three of a p...