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. Anonymous says:

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

  2. Anonymous 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. Anonymous says:

    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. Anonymous says:

    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. Anonymous says:

    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. Anonymous says:

    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. Anonymous says:

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

  8. Anonymous says:

    > 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. Anonymous says:

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

  10. Anonymous 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. Anonymous 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. Anonymous says:


    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. Anonymous 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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