Donald Knuth

Donald Knuth bigraphy, stories - Computer science

Donald Knuth : biography

10 January 1938 –

Donald Ervin Knuth ( ; born January 10, 1938) is an American computer scientist and Professor Emeritus at Stanford University..

He is the author of the seminal multi-volume work The Art of Computer Programming.. Knuth has been called the "father" of the analysis of algorithms. He 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 in 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.

As an important member of the academic and scientific community, Knuth is strongly opposed to the policy of granting software patents.. He has expressed his disagreement directly to the patent offices of the United States and Europe. to the patent offices in the USA and Europe.


Knuth is known for his "professional humor".

  • He used to pay a finder’s fee of $2.56 for any typographical errors or mistakes discovered in his books, because "256 pennies is one hexadecimal dollar", and $0.32 for "valuable suggestions". According to an article in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Technology Review, these Knuth reward checks are "among computerdom’s most prized trophies". Knuth had to stop sending real checks in 2008 due to bank fraud, and instead now gives each error finder a "certificate of deposit" from a publicly listed balance in his fictitious "Bank of San Serriffe"..
  • He once warned a correspondent, "Beware of bugs in the above code; I have only proved it correct, not tried it."
  • The preface of Concrete Mathematics includes the following anecdote: "When Knuth taught Concrete Mathematics at Stanford for the first time, he explained the somewhat strange title by saying that it was his attempt to teach a math course that was hard instead of soft. He announced that, contrary to the expectations of some of his colleagues, he was not going to teach the Theory of Aggregates, nor Stone’s Embedding Theorem, nor even the Stone–Čech compactification theorem. (Several students from the civil engineering department got up and quietly left the room.)"
  • Knuth published his first "scientific" article in a school magazine in 1957 under the title "Potrzebie System of Weights and Measures." In it, he defined the fundamental unit of length as the thickness of Mad #26, and named the fundamental unit of force "whatmeworry." Mad published the article in issue #33 (June 1957)..
  • Knuth’s article about the computational complexity of songs, "The Complexity of Songs", was reprinted twice in computer science journals.
  • To demonstrate the concept, Knuth intentionally referred "Circular definition" and "Definition, circular" to each other in the index of The Art of Computer Programming, Volume 1.
  • At the TUG 2010 Conference,. Knuth announced an XML-based successor to TeX, titled "iTeX" ( with a bell ringing), which would support features such as arbitrarily scaled irrational units, 3D printing, animation, and stereophonic sound..

Health concerns

In 2006, Knuth was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He underwent surgery in December that year and started "a little bit of radiation therapy… as a precaution but the prognosis looks pretty good", as he reported in his video autobiography.


A short list of his works:.