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Donald E. Knuth

Donald E. KnuthAKA Donald Ervin Knuth

Born: 10-Jan-1938
Birthplace: Milwaukee, WI

Gender: Male
Religion: Lutheran
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Computer Programmer, Author

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: The Art of Computer Programming

American mathematician and computer scientist Donald E. Knuth (pronounced Ka-NOOTH) authored the first three volumes of a planned seven-volume work, The Art of Computer Programming, in the late 1960s and early '70s. The next four volumes remain a work in progress, but even decades later the first three books are considered a fundamental guide to computer programming.

Knuth's mathematical techniques for the rigorous analysis of algorithms has been described as "making computing a science." He has advocated literate programming, software written so plainly that ordinary people, not just computers and computer programmers, can understand it. An acknowledged expert on attribution grammar, compilers, digital mathematical typography, and structured documentation, he has also written respected works on computer typesetting. In a 1995 interview, Bill Gates said that prospective computer programmers who want to work for Microsoft should read at least the first volume of Knuth's Art of Computer Programming before sending a resumé.

Knuth's first published paper, written when he was 19, appeared in a 1957 issue of Mad Magazine and proposed a system of weights and measures with the whatmeworry as a unit of force. He later devised a mathematical formula for evaluating the individual contributions of basketball players to a team. Knuth was among the first scientists to use email, beginning in 1975, but closed his email account in 1990, when he saw that his in-box had diverted his attention from his work. "Email is a wonderful thing for people whose role in life is to be on top of things. But not for me; my role is to be on the bottom of things."

Father: Ervin Henry Knuth (teacher)
Mother: Louise Marie Bohning
Wife: Nancy Jill Carter Knuth (b. 15-Jul-1939, m. 24-Jun-1961)
Son: John Martin Knuth (b. 21-Jul-1965)
Daughter: Jennifer Sierra Knuth (12-Dec-1966)

    High School: Milwaukee Lutheran High School, Milwaukee, WI (1956)
    University: BS Mathematics, Case Institute of Technology (1960)
    University: MS Mathematics, Case Institute of Technology (1960)
    University: PhD Mathematics, California Institute of Technology (1963)
    Teacher: Ass't Prof. of Mathmatics, California Institute of Technology (1963-66)
    Teacher: Assoc. Prof. of Mathmatics, California Institute of Technology (1966-68)
    Professor: Computer Science, Stanford University (1968-77)
    Professor: Fletcher Jones Prof. of Computer Science, Stanford University (1977-90)
    Professor: Prof. of The Art of Computer Programming, Stanford University (1990-93)

    ACM Grace Murray Hopper Award 1971
    Guggenheim Fellowship 1972-73
    Turing Award 1974
    National Medal of Science 1979
    IEEE W. Wallace McDowell Award 1980
    IEEE Computer Pioneer Award 1982
    Academy of Achievement Golden Plate Award 1985
    New York Academy of Sciences Award 1987
    Benjamin Franklin Medal 1988 (Franklin Institute)
    IEEE John von Neumann Medal 1995
    Technion's Leo M. Harvey Prize 1995
    Kyoto Prize 1996
    Katayanagi Prizes in Computer Science 2010
    Burroughs Consultant (1960-68)
    American Academy of Arts and Sciences 1973
    American Mathematical Society
    Association for Computing Machinery Fellow, 1994
    IEEE (honorary member) 1982
    French Academy of Sciences Foreign Member, 1992
    National Academy of Engineering 1981
    National Academy of Sciences 1975
    National Science Foundation Fellowship, 1960
    Royal Society Foreign Member, 2003
    Russian Academy of Sciences Foreign Member, 2008
    Pi Mu Epsilon Mathematics Society
    Sigma Xi Scientific Research Society
    Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society
    Theta Chi Fraternity
    German Ancestry
    Asteroid Namesake 21656 Knuth
    Risk Factors: Prostate Cancer, Stuttering

Official Website:

Author of books:
The Art of Computer Programming, Vol. 1: Fundamental Algorithms (1968)
The Art of Computer Programming, Vol. 2: Seminumerical Algorithms (1969)
The Art of Computer Programming, Vol. 3: Sorting and Searching (1973)
Surreal Numbers (1974, science fiction novel)
Tex and Metafont (1979)
Mathematics for the Analysis of Algorithms (1981, with Daniel H. Greene)
Computers and Typesetting (1986, five volumes)
Concrete Mathematics (1989, with Ronald Graham and Oren Patashnik)
3:16 Bible Texts Illuminated (1991, Biblical scholarship)
Axioms and Hulls (1992)
Literate Programming (1992)
The CWEB System of Structured Documentation (1993)
The Stanford GraphBase: A Platform for Combinatorial Computing (1994)
Selected Papers on Computer Science (1996)
Digital Typography (1999)
MMIXware: A RISC Computer for the Third Millennium (1999)
Selected Papers on Analysis of Algorithms (2000)
Things a Computer Scientist Rarely Talks About (2001)
Selected Papers on Computer Languages (2003)
Selected Papers on Discrete Mathematics (2003)
Selected Papers on Design of Algorithms (2010)
Selected Papers on Fun and Games (2010)

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