NPR Has a FASCINATING profile of Donald Knuth this morning…

I’m listening to NPR right now (getting ready for work/school) and I realized they had an article on Knuth.

Very cool, and worth listening.

And he’s just about done with Volume 4!

Comments (17)

  1. Grant says:

    I heard this while driving to work also and really enjoyed it; thanks for the link to the story.

  2. Mat Hall says:

    I wish a) we could get NPR in the UK, and b) audio was available for download rather than streaming.

    (And all my life I’ve been pronouncing Knuth with a silent K…)

  3. Was it true that Bill Gates said something about hiring any programmer who could finish the series?

    My high school principal went to high school with Knuth – they were friends and alphabetically next to each other in their class. I got to hear a few entertaining stories about when they were teenagers. It’s sometimes hard to remember that our icons didn’t know what was in store for them.

  4. Steve, I have NO idea if that’s true or not.

    I doubt it, since it’s Knuth’s baby – any attempt to finish it while Knuth is alive would be MAJOR toe stepping.

    But that’s cool about your principal.

  5. Larry – I think Steve meant "finish it" as in finish reading it or finish doing the problems.

    The quote on the back of the third edition bookcover reads:

    "If you think you’re a really good programmer… read [Knuth’s] Art of Computer Programming. … You should definately send me a resume if you can read the whole thing.

    – Bill Gates"

  6. Oh, yeah. That kind of finish. Not as in "completing", but as in "surviving".

    Ok, that makes more sense 🙂

    Since I only have 2nd editions (for 1 and 2) (and a 1st edition of volume 3), I’m not in the loop – I got them 20 years ago in college and haven’t had a need to update them.

  7. Btw, my excuse is that I spent the entire weekend doing Tai Chi. That’ll seriously mess with your head if anything does.

  8. > And he’s just about done with Volume 4!

    That joke was old 30 years ago.

    OK, it’s an oldie but a goodie.

    But now it’s time for an update:

    Volume 4 will be coming out some millennium now.

    3/14/2005 2:42 PM Steve Dispensa

    > I got to hear a few entertaining stories

    > about when they were teenagers.

    Hey! Tell us the stories!

  9. I’ll take your word for it; I think if I tried Tai Chi I’d break something 😉

  10. D. Philippe says:

    The Gates story, as I recall hearing it, is that he tried to and couldn’t finish the series of books. Which would explain why he wrote that tongue-in-cheek promo on the back.

  11. Chi Sao says:

    Doing Tai Chi?

    Which form? 24 steps? 48 steps? 64 steps?

    I’ve practiced Tai-Chi for 17 years and I can tell you that what you learn in the first 5 years is nothing compared with what you learn in the next 5 and so on… All this without doing different movements, but by succesive refinement of the same movements.

  12. Chi,

    We do two different forms. The first is the Chen Man Ching Yang style short form, the second is called the "fundimentals" form by Tricia Yu (

    This weekend I was at a seminar by B.K. Franzis which focused on the 16 part Nei Gung and their applications to Tai Chi.

    I’ve only been doing the forms for about 4 years now, and I’m still trying to get the form vaguely right :)…

  13. John Tyler says:

    Don Knuth’s lectures on computer science are posted to the Stanford University web site at

    If you think the interview on NPR this morning was cool, just give the professor a couple hours of your time, watch his "Musings" on the art of programming, and learn …


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