E. Knuthauthor

Donald E. Knuth


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Donald Ervin Knuth is an American computer scientist, mathematician, and professor emeritus at Stanford University. He is the 1974 recipient of the ACM Turing Award, informally considered the Nobel Prize of computer science. Knuth has been called the "father of the analysis of algorithms." He is the author of the multi-volume work The Art of Computer Programming and contributed to the development of the rigorous analysis of the computational complexity of algorithms and systematized formal mathematical techniques for it. 

In the process, he also popularized the asymptotic notation. In addition to fundamental contributions to several branches of theoretical computer science, Knuth is the creator of the TeX computer typesetting system, the related METAFONT font definition language and rendering system, and the Computer Modern family of typefaces.

As a writer and scholar, Knuth created the WEB and CWEB computer programming systems designed to encourage and facilitate literate programming and designed the MIX/MMIX instruction set architectures. Knuth strongly opposes the granting of software patents, having expressed his opinion to the United States Patent and Trademark Office and European Patent Organisation.

Knuth was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to Ervin Henry Knuth and Louise Marie Bohning. He describes his heritage as "Midwestern Lutheran German."  His father owned a small printing business and taught bookkeeping. Donald, a student at Milwaukee Lutheran High School, thought of ingenious ways to solve problems. For example, in eighth grade, he entered a contest to find the number of words that the letters in "Ziegler's Giant Bar" could be rearranged to create; the judges had identified 2,500 such words. 

With time gained away from school due to a pretend stomach ache and working the problem the other way, Knuth used an unabridged dictionary and determined if each dictionary entry could be formed using the letters in the phrase. Using this algorithm, he identified over 4,500 words, winning the contest.  As prizes, the school received a new television and enough candy bars for all of his schoolmates to eat.

Knuth received a scholarship in physics to the Case Institute of Technology (now part of Case Western Reserve University) in Cleveland, Ohio, enrolling in 1956. He also joined the Beta Nu Chapter of the Theta Chi fraternity. While studying physics at Case, Knuth was introduced to the IBM 650, an early commercial computer. After reading the computer's manual, Knuth decided to rewrite the assembly and compiler code for the machine used in his school because he believed he could do it better.

In 1958, Knuth created a program to help his school's basketball team win their games. He assigned "values" to players in order to gauge their probability of getting points, a novel approach that Newsweek and CBS Evening News later reported on.

Knuth was one of the founding editors of Case Institute's Engineering and Science Review, which won a national award as the best technical magazine in 1959. He then switched from physics to mathematics and received two degrees from Case in 1960: his bachelor of science degree and simultaneously a master of science by a special award from the faculty, who considered his work exceptionally outstanding.

In 1963, with mathematician Marshall Hall as his adviser, he earned a Ph.D. in mathematics from the California Institute of Technology for a thesis entitled Finite Semifields and Projective Planes.

Best author’s book


The Art of Computer Programming

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