Donald Knuth

Overview

**Donald Ervin Knuth**is a computer scientist

Computer science

Computer science or computing science is the study of the theoretical foundations of information and computation and of practical techniques for their implementation and application in computer systems...

and Professor Emeritus at Stanford University

Stanford University

The Leland Stanford Junior University, commonly referred to as Stanford University or Stanford, is a private research university on an campus located near Palo Alto, California. It is situated in the northwestern Santa Clara Valley on the San Francisco Peninsula, approximately northwest of San...

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He is the author of the seminal multi-volume work The Art of Computer Programming

The Art of Computer Programming

The Art of Computer Programming is a comprehensive monograph written by Donald Knuth that covers many kinds of programming algorithms and their analysis....

. Knuth has been called the "father" of the analysis of algorithms

Analysis of algorithms

To analyze an algorithm is to determine the amount of resources necessary to execute it. Most algorithms are designed to work with inputs of arbitrary length...

. 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

Big O notation

In mathematics, big O notation is used to describe the limiting behavior of a function when the argument tends towards a particular value or infinity, usually in terms of simpler functions. It is a member of a larger family of notations that is called Landau notation, Bachmann-Landau notation, or...

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In addition to fundamental contributions in several branches of theoretical computer science

Theoretical computer science

Theoretical computer science is a division or subset of general computer science and mathematics which focuses on more abstract or mathematical aspects of computing....

, Knuth is the creator of the TeX

TeX

TeX is a typesetting system designed and mostly written by Donald Knuth and released in 1978. Within the typesetting system, its name is formatted as ....

computer typesetting system, the related METAFONT

METAFONT

Metafont is a programming language used to define vector fonts. It is also the name of the interpreter that executes Metafont code, generating the bitmap fonts that can be embedded into e.g. PostScript...

font definition language and rendering system, and the Computer Modern

Computer Modern

Computer Modern is the family of typefaces used by default by the typesetting program TeX. It was created by Donald Knuth with his METAFONT program, and was most recently updated in 1992. However, the family font was superseded by CM-Super , the latest release dating 2008...

family of typefaces.

As a writer and scholar, Knuth created the WEB

WEB

WEB is a computer programming system created by Donald E. Knuth as the first implementation of what he called "literate programming": the idea that one could create software as works of literature, by embedding source code inside descriptive text, rather than the reverse , in an order that is...

/CWEB

CWEB

CWEB is a computer programming system created by Donald Knuth and Silvio Levy as a follow up to Knuth's WEB literate programming system, using the C programming language instead of Pascal....

computer programming systems designed to encourage and facilitate literate programming

Literate programming

Literate programming is an approach to programming introduced by Donald Knuth as an alternative to the structured programming paradigm of the 1970s....

, and designed the MIX

MIX

MIX is a hypothetical computer used in Donald Knuth's monograph, The Art of Computer Programming . MIX's model number is 1009, which was derived by combining the model numbers and names of several contemporaneous, commercial machines deemed significant by the author...

/MMIX

MMIX

MMIX is a 64-bit RISC instruction set architecture designed by Donald Knuth, with significant contributions by John L. Hennessy and Richard L. Sites...

instruction set architectures

Instruction set

An instruction set, or instruction set architecture , is the part of the computer architecture related to programming, including the native data types, instructions, registers, addressing modes, memory architecture, interrupt and exception handling, and external I/O...

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Knuth was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Wisconsin

Wisconsin is a U.S. state located in the north-central United States and is part of the Midwest. It is bordered by Minnesota to the west, Iowa to the southwest, Illinois to the south, Lake Michigan to the east, Michigan to the northeast, and Lake Superior to the north. Wisconsin's capital is...

, where his father owned a small printing business and taught bookkeeping at Milwaukee Lutheran High School

Milwaukee Lutheran High School

Milwaukee Lutheran High School is a secondary school located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The school was originally known as Lutheran High School . LHS was established in 1903, making Milwaukee Lutheran an offshoot of the oldest Lutheran high school in America...

, where he enrolled, earning achievement awards.

Unanswered Questions

Quotations

The whole thing that makes a mathematicianâ€™s life worthwhile is that he gets the grudging admiration of three or four colleagues.

Jack Woehr. An interview with Donald Knuth. Dr. Dobb's Journal, pages 16-22 (April 1996)

A mathematical formula should never be "owned" by anybody! Mathematics belong to God.

Digital Typography, ch. 1, p. 8 (1999)

I define UNIX as 30 definitions of regular expressions living under one roof.

Digital Typography, ch. 33, p. 649 (1999)

I can’t go to a restaurant and order food because I keep looking at the fonts on the menu.