digplanet beta 1: Athena
Share digplanet:


Applied sciences






















Donald Ervin Knuth
Donald Knuth at a reception for the Open Content Alliance, October 25, 2005
Born (1938-01-10) January 10, 1938 (age 76)
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, US
Other names 高德纳
Residence US
Nationality American
Fields Mathematics
Computer science
Institutions Stanford University
Alma mater Case Institute of Technology
California Institute of Technology
Thesis Finite Semifields and Projective Planes (1963)
Doctoral advisor Marshall Hall, Jr.
Doctoral students Leonidas J. Guibas
Michael Fredman
Scott Kim
Vaughan Pratt
Robert Sedgewick
Jeffrey Vitter
Andrei Broder
Known for The Art of Computer Programming
Knuth–Morris–Pratt algorithm
Knuth–Bendix completion algorithm
Robinson–Schensted–Knuth correspondence
Notable awards Turing Award (1974)
National Medal of Science (1979)
John von Neumann Medal (1995)
Harvey Prize (1995)
Kyoto Prize (1996)
Faraday Medal (2011)
Donald E. Knuth

Donald Ervin Knuth (/kəˈnθ/[1] kə-NOOTH; born January 10, 1938) is an American computer scientist, mathematician, and Professor Emeritus at Stanford University.[2]

He is the author of the multi-volume work The Art of Computer Programming.[3] 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,[4] 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 a member of the academic and scientific community, Knuth is strongly opposed to the policy of granting software patents.[5] He has expressed his disagreement directly to both the United States Patent and Trademark Office and European Patent Organization.[6]

Early life[edit]

Knuth was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where his father owned a small printing business and taught bookkeeping at Milwaukee Lutheran High School, where Donald enrolled, earning achievement awards. He applied his intelligence in unconventional ways, winning a contest when he was in eighth grade by finding over 4,500 words that could be formed from the letters in "Ziegler's Giant Bar"; the judges had only about 2,500 words on their master list. This won him a television set for his school and a candy bar for everyone in his class.[7]


Knuth had a difficult time choosing physics over music as his major at Case Institute of Technology (now part of Case Western Reserve University). He also joined Beta Nu Chapter of the Theta Chi fraternity. While studying physics at the Case Institute of Technology, Knuth was introduced to the IBM 650, one of the early mainframes. 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.[8] In 1958, Knuth constructed a program based on the value of each player that could help his school basketball team win the league. This was so novel a proposition at the time that it got picked up and published by Newsweek and also covered by Walter Cronkite on the CBS Evening News.[8] Knuth was one of the founding editors of the Engineering and Science Review, which won a national award as best technical magazine in 1959.[9] He then switched from physics to mathematics, and in 1960 he received his bachelor of science degree, simultaneously being given a master of science degree by a special award of the faculty who considered his work exceptionally outstanding.[8][10]

In 1963, he earned a PhD in mathematics (his advisor was Marshall Hall) from the California Institute of Technology.[11]

Early work[edit]

Upon receiving his PhD, Knuth joined Caltech's faculty as an associate professor.

He accepted a commission to write a book on computer programming language compilers. While working on this project, Knuth decided that he could not adequately treat the topic without first developing a fundamental theory of computer programming, which became The Art of Computer Programming. He originally planned to publish this as a single book. As Knuth developed his outline for the book, he concluded that he required six volumes, and then seven, to thoroughly cover the subject. He published the first volume in 1968.

Just before publishing the first volume of The Art of Computer Programming, Knuth left Caltech to accept employment with the Institute for Defense Analyses' Communications Research Division, then situated on the Princeton University campus, which was performing mathematical research in cryptography to support the National Security Agency.

Knuth then left this position to join the Stanford University faculty.


The Art of Computer Programming (TAOCP)[edit]

Computer science was then taking its first hesitant steps. "It was a totally new field," Knuth recalls, "with no real identity. And the standard of available publications was not that high. A lot of the papers coming out were quite simply wrong. [...] So one of my motivations was to put straight a story that had been very badly told."

After producing the third volume of his series in 1976, he expressed such frustration with the nascent state of the then newly developed electronic publishing tools (especially those that provided input to phototypesetters) that he took time out to work on typesetting and created the TeX and METAFONT tools.

As of 2013, the first three volumes and part one of volume four of his series have been published.[12]

Other works[edit]

He is also the author of Surreal Numbers,[13] a mathematical novelette on John Conway's set theory construction of an alternate system of numbers. Instead of simply explaining the subject, the book seeks to show the development of the mathematics. Knuth wanted the book to prepare students for doing original, creative research.

In 1995, Knuth wrote the foreword to the book A=B by Marko Petkovsek, Herbert Wilf and Doron Zeilberger.[14] Knuth is also an occasional contributor of language puzzles to Word Ways: The Journal of Recreational Linguistics.

Religious beliefs and work[edit]

In addition to his writings on computer science, Knuth, a Lutheran,[15] is also the author of 3:16 Bible Texts Illuminated,[16] in which he examines the Bible by a process of systematic sampling, namely an analysis of chapter 3, verse 16 of each book. Each verse is accompanied by a rendering in calligraphic art, contributed by a group of calligraphers under the leadership of Hermann Zapf.

Subsequently he was invited to give a set of lectures on his 3:16  project, resulting in another book, Things a Computer Scientist Rarely Talks About.

Health concerns[edit]

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.[17]

Computer musings[edit]

Knuth gives informal lectures a few times a year at Stanford University, which he called Computer Musings. He was also a visiting professor at the Oxford University Computing Laboratory (now the Oxford University Department of Computer Science) in the United Kingdom and an Honorary Fellow of Magdalen College.[18]


"Nested parens"—Donald Knuth and Jacob Appelbaum and Donald Knuth

Knuth 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".[19]

He once warned a correspondent, "Beware of bugs in the above code; I have only proved it correct, not tried it."[20]

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 No. 26, and named the fundamental unit of force "whatmeworry." Mad published the article in issue No. 33 (June 1957).[21]

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" (pronounced [iː˨˩˦tɛks˧˥], with a bell ringing), which would support features such as arbitrarily scaled irrational units, 3D printing, animation, and stereophonic sound.[22][23][24]


In 1971, Knuth was the recipient of the first ACM Grace Murray Hopper Award. He has received various other awards including the Turing Award, the National Medal of Science, the John von Neumann Medal, and the Kyoto Prize.

In recognition of Knuth's contributions to the field of computer science, in 1990 he was awarded the one-of-a-kind academic title of Professor of The Art of Computer Programming, which has since been revised to Professor Emeritus of The Art of Computer Programming.

Knuth was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1975. In 1992, he became an associate of the French Academy of Sciences. Also that year, he retired from regular research and teaching at Stanford University in order to finish The Art of Computer Programming. In 2003 he was elected as a foreign member of the Royal Society.

Knuth was elected as a Fellow (first class of Fellows) of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics in 2009 for his outstanding contributions to mathematics.[25] He is a member of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters.[26] In 2012, he became a fellow of the American Mathematical Society.[27]

Honors bestowed on Knuth include:


A short list of his works:[34]

The Art of Computer Programming[edit]

  1. ——— (1997), The Art of Computer Programming, 1: Fundamental Algorithms (3rd ed.), Addison-Wesley Professional, ISBN 0-201-89683-4 .
  2. ——— (1997), The Art of Computer Programming, 2: Seminumerical Algorithms (3rd ed.), Addison-Wesley Professional, ISBN 0-201-89684-2 .
  3. ——— (1998), The Art of Computer Programming, 3: Sorting and Searching (2nd ed.), Addison-Wesley Professional, ISBN 0-201-89685-0 .
  4. ——— (2011), The Art of Computer Programming, 4A: Combinatorial Algorithms, Addison-Wesley Professional, ISBN 0-201-03804-8 .

The Art of Computer Programming[edit]

  1. ——— (2005), MMIX—A RISC Computer for the New Millennium, 1, Fascicle 1, ISBN 0-201-85392-2 .
  2. ——— (2008), The Art of Computer Programming, 4, Fascicle 0: Introduction to Combinatorial Algorithms and Boolean Functions, ISBN 0-321-53496-4 .
  3. ——— (2009), The Art of Computer Programming, 4, Fascicle 1: Bitwise Tricks & Techniques; Binary Decision Diagrams, ISBN 0-321-58050-8 .
  4. ——— (2005), The Art of Computer Programming, 4, Fascicle 2: Generating All Tuples and Permutations, ISBN 0-201-85393-0 .
  5. ——— (2005), The Art of Computer Programming, 4, Fascicle 3: Generating All Combinations and Partitions, ISBN 0-201-85394-9 .
  6. ——— (2006), The Art of Computer Programming, 4, Fascicle 4: Generating All Trees—History of Combinatorial Generation, ISBN 0-321-33570-8 .

Computers & Typesetting[edit]

  1. ——— (1984), Computers & Typesetting, A, The TeXbook, Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, ISBN 0-201-13447-0 , x+483pp.
  2. ——— (1986), Computers & Typesetting, B, TeX: The Program, Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, ISBN 0-201-13437-3 , xviii+600pp.
  3. ——— (1986), Computers & Typesetting, C, The METAFONTbook, Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, ISBN 0-201-13445-4 , xii+361pp.
  4. ——— (1986), Computers & Typesetting, D, METAFONT: The Program, Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, ISBN 0-201-13438-1 , xviii+566pp.
  5. ——— (1986), Computers & Typesetting, E, Computer Modern Typefaces, Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley , xvi+588pp.

Selected papers[edit]

  1. ——— (1992), Literate Programming[35], Lecture Notes (27), Stanford, CA: Center for the Study of Language and Information—CSLI, ISBN 0-937073-80-6 .
  2. ——— (1996), Selected Papers on Computer Science[36], Lecture Notes (59), Stanford, CA: Center for the Study of Language and Information—CSLI, ISBN 1-881526-91-7 .
  3. ——— (1999), Digital Typography[37], Lecture Notes (78), Stanford, CA: Center for the Study of Language and Information—CSLI, ISBN 1-57586-010-4 .
  4. ——— (2000), Selected Papers on Analysis of Algorithms[38], Lecture Notes (102), Stanford, CA: Center for the Study of Language and Information—CSLI, ISBN 1-57586-212-3 .
  5. ——— (2003), Selected Papers on Computer Languages[39] (cloth), Lecture Notes (139), Stanford, CA: Center for the Study of Language and Information—CSLI, ISBN 1-57586-381-2 , ISBN 1-57586-382-0 (paperback)
  6. ——— (2003), Selected Papers on Discrete Mathematics[40] (cloth), Lecture Notes (106), Stanford, CA: Center for the Study of Language and Information—CSLI, ISBN 1-57586-249-2 , ISBN 1-57586-248-4 (paperback).
  7. Donald E. Knuth, Selected Papers on Design of Algorithms[41] (Stanford, California: Center for the Study of Language and Information—CSLI Lecture Notes, no. 191), 2010. ISBN 1-57586-583-1 (cloth), ISBN 1-57586-582-3 (paperback)
  8. Donald E. Knuth, Selected Papers on Fun and Games[42] (Stanford, California: Center for the Study of Language and Information—CSLI Lecture Notes, no. 192), 2011. ISBN 978-1-57586-585-0 (cloth), ISBN 978-1-57586-584-3 (paperback)
  9. Donald E. Knuth, Companion to the Papers of Donald Knuth[43] (Stanford, California: Center for the Study of Language and Information—CSLI Lecture Notes, no. 202), 2011. ISBN 978-1-57586-635-2 (cloth), ISBN 978-1-57586-634-5 (paperback)

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Knuth, Donald Ervin. "Frequently Asked Questions". Home page. Stanford University. Retrieved November 2, 2010. "How do you pronounce your last name? Ka-NOOTH." 
  2. ^ Knuth, Donald Ervin, Home page, Stanford University .
  3. ^ The Art of Computer Programming, Stanford University .
  4. ^ Knuth, Donald Ervin, Curriculum vitae, Stanford University .
  5. ^ Professor Donald Knuth's Thinking Against Software Patents (PDF), Notices (article) (The American Mathematical Society), March 2002 .
  6. ^ Knuth, Donald Ervin, Against software patents (PDF) (Letters)  to the patent offices in the USA and Europe.
  7. ^ Shasha, Dennis Elliott; Lazere, Cathy A (1998), Out of their minds: the lives and discoveries of 15 great computer scientists, Springer, p. 90, ISBN 978-0-387-98269-4 
  8. ^ a b c Koshy, Thomas (2004), Discrete mathematics with applications, Academic Press, p. 244, ISBN 978-0-12-421180-3, retrieved July 30, 2011 
  9. ^ "History of Beta Nu Chapter", The Tachi, CWRU .
  10. ^ A.M. Turing Award; Donald ("Don") Erwin Knuth, ACM, 1974 .
  11. ^ Knuth, Donald Ervin (1963), Finite Semifields and Projective Planes (PDF) (PhD dissertation), Caltech .
  12. ^ Knuth, Donald Ervin. "The Art of Computer Programming (TAOCP)". Retrieved May 20, 2012. 
  13. ^ Knuth 1974.
  14. ^ Zeilberg, DEK, Rutgers .
  15. ^ Platoni 2006.
  16. ^ Knuth, Donald Ervin (1991), 3:16 : Bible texts illuminated, Madison, WI: A-R Eds, ISBN 978-0-89579-252-5 
  17. ^ "Donald Knuth: 85 – Coping with cancer". Web of Stories. April 2006. Retrieved May 2, 2012. 
  18. ^ "Professor Donald Knuth". Magdalen College. Retrieved December 6, 2010. 
  19. ^ Rewriting the Bible in 0s and 1s, Technology Review (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) .
  20. ^ Knuth, Donald Ervin. "Frequently Asked Questions". Home page. Stanford University. Retrieved November 2, 2010. 
  21. ^ Knuth, Donald Ervin (June 1957), Potrzebie System of Weights & Measures, Mad Magazine (33) .
  22. ^ "Don Knuth", TUG (conference), River valley TV, 2010 .
  23. ^ Knuth, Donald Ervin, An Earth‐shaking announcement (video) (recording), River Valley TV .
  24. ^ Knuth, Donald Ervin (2010), An Earthshaking Announcement (PDF), TUGboat 31 (2): 121–24, ISSN 0896-3207 
  25. ^ Fellows, Siam, 2009 .
  26. ^ "Gruppe 1: Matematiske fag" (in Norwegian). Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters. Retrieved October 7, 2010. 
  27. ^ List of Fellows of the American Mathematical Society, retrieved 2013-01-27.
  28. ^ Josiah Willard Gibbs Lectures
  29. ^ Knuth, Donald E. (1979). "Mathematical typography". Bull. Amer. Math. Soc. (N.S.) 1 (2): 337–372. doi:10.1090/s0273-0979-1979-14598-1. MR 520078. 
  30. ^ Harvey, IL: Technion, 1995 .
  31. ^ Katayanagi, CMU .
  32. ^ "Galardonados", Fronteras (in Spanish), ES: FBBVA, 2010 .
  33. ^ Myers, Andrew (June 1, 2001). "Stanford's Don Knuth, a pioneering hero of computer programming". Stanford Report. Retrieved June 27, 2011. 
  34. ^ Knuth, Donald Ervin, Books, Home page (list) .
  35. ^ Knuth, Donald Ervin, Literate Programming, Home page .
  36. ^ Knuth, Donald Ervin, Selected Papers on Computer Science, Home page .
  37. ^ Knuth, Donald Ervin, Digital Typography, Home page .
  38. ^ Knuth, Donald Ervin, Selected Papers on Analysis of Algorithms, Home page .
  39. ^ Knuth, Donald Ervin, Selected Papers on Computer Languages, Home page .
  40. ^ Knuth, Donald Ervin, Selected Papers on Discrete Mathematics, Home page .
  41. ^ Knuth, Donald Ervin, Selected Papers on Design of Algorithms, Home page .
  42. ^ Knuth, Donald Ervin, Selected Papers on Fun and Games, Home page .
  43. ^ Knuth, Donald Ervin, Companion to the Papers of Donald Knuth"], Home page 
  44. ^ Knuth, Donald Ervin, Surreal numbers, Home page .


External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Knuth — Please support Wikipedia.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.
43435 videos foundNext > 

Donald Knuth - All Questions Answered

Donald Knuth, in this Stanford Engineering Hero Lecture, answers questions from the audience--from his opinion of Wikipedia to the next great discovery in co...

My advice to young people - Donald Knuth [video]

Visit http://www.webofstories.com/people/donald.knuth for more Donald Knuth's inspiring thoughts and life stories. Donald Knuth (b. 1938), American computing...

"All Questions Answered" by Donald Knuth

Google Tech Talk (more info below) March 24, 2011 Presented by Donald Knuth. ABSTRACT Bill Coughran, senior vice president engineering at Google, hosts a Q&A...

"Why Pi?" - from Donald Knuth's Computer Musings

Professor Donald Knuth discusses recent discoveries that have uncovered a fascinating relationship between circles and the theory of trees. Learn more: http:...

Donald Knuth - "Bayesian trees and BDDs"

Professor Donald Knuth's 17th annual Christmas Tree Lecture. Knuth explains how to apply elementary BDD technology so that the probability of such events (an...

Authors@Google: Donald Knuth

Professor Donald Knuth visits Google's Mountain View, CA headquarters to discuss the interactions between faith and science. This event took place on March 1...

What is it like to have Donald Knuth as a PhD advisor?

http://www.princetonstartuptv.com/ Robert Sedgewick on completing his PhD in Computer Science at Stanford under the supervision of the legendary Donald Knuth...

Knuth - TeX For Beginners - Session 1

Original lecture date: February 23, 1981 Copyright: Stanford University 2004 Source: http://scpd.stanford.edu/knuth/

Donald Knuth - "Trees and chordal graphs"

Professor Knuth's Annual Christmas Tree Lecture at Stanford Chordal graphs—also known as triangulated graphs or perfect-elimination graphs—are perhaps the mo...

Donald Knuth on P=NP at CMU-SV

43435 videos foundNext > 

50 news items


Mon, 22 Sep 2014 16:22:35 -0700

In 1977, the computer scientist Donald Knuth wrote a paper The Complexity Of Songs applying mathematical complexity theory to the structure of the song 99 Bottles Of Beer On The Wall. 7. The earliest known reference to a 99-flake ice-cream with a ...

Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies

Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies
Tue, 14 Oct 2014 20:11:52 -0700

Bostrom quotes Donald Knuth's famous sentence that A.I. seems better at emulating "thinking" than at emulating the things we do without thinking. As Bostrom points out in Note 60 of Chapter 1, even that is optimistic, but there is larger truth in that ...

CIO Insight (blog)

CIO Insight (blog)
Fri, 10 Oct 2014 07:13:28 -0700

The intense and purposeful work habits of The Draugiem Group's top workers reminds me of Stanford University computer scientist Donald Knuth's technique of operating in batch mode, during which he "is concentrating intensively and uninterruptedly on ...

New York Times (blog)

New York Times (blog)
Mon, 22 Sep 2014 09:02:26 -0700

Before we get to this week's puzzle — several days ago I asked Donald Knuth, the legendary computer scientist currently at Stanford University, how he would have solved our recent Bugs on a Square problem, which is a classic among software engineers.

Mintpress News (registration) (blog)

Mintpress News (registration) (blog)
Sat, 04 Oct 2014 03:04:30 -0700

... competent, and otherwise scientifically-literate people as Tycho Brahe, Gottfried Liebniz, Leonard Euler, William Herschel, Heinrich Hertz, Georg Cantor, Max Planck, Lise Meitner, Werner Heisenberg, Werner von Braun, Kurt Godel, and Donald Knuth


Sun, 28 Sep 2014 22:00:02 -0700

Stanford's Donald Knuth, author of the definitive three-volume text “The Art of Computer Programming,” once said of a computer program that “reading it was just like hearing a symphony.” Microsoft's new CEO Satya Nadella has said “the best code is ...
Sun, 14 Sep 2014 19:20:10 -0700

More about Donald Knuth. ARTICLE: Last dance of the SCC: Waseca beats St. Peter 76-52 for first conference title since 2005; ARTICLE: Science Museum of Minnesota brings science to second-graders in Waseca; ARTICLE: NRHEG wrestling ousts ...
Avery Journal Times
Sat, 13 Sep 2014 07:03:45 -0700

Tags: Donald Knuth, Mix, Sports, Geri Stern, Harbor Women S Golf Association, 18-hole Ladies Golf Association, Don Waterman, Doug Fisher, Debbie Vanover, Darlene Cook, Kim Phillips, Sondra Schimmolier, Kathi Layton, Carol Cooley, Dee Humphrey, ...

Oops, we seem to be having trouble contacting Twitter

Support Wikipedia

A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia. Please add your support for Wikipedia!