Talk:Donald Knuth

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 Definition An acclaimed computer scientist, mathematician, and professor emeritus at Stanford University. [d] [e]

Not Yet Ready For The Big Time

Erm... This page isn't 'CZ Live' yet. It's been copied and pasted from Wikipedia, without so much as a template noting that it's been copied from a GFDL site. Pages have to be cleaned up and improved upon by local editors to be considered CZ Live... Shanya Almafeta 21:21, 25 January 2007 (CST)

When we started, we forked-and had copies of all Wikipedia articles. For several weeks (months?-I Iose track) we started new articles, and worked on the forked articles. Generally, we were supposed to make CZ Live any of the forked articles we worked on as well as the new articles created, and then, when we decided to try unforking, only the CZ live articles were to be retained. Well, there were some articles that were not CZ live, but yet had changes made in them by CZers. What to do? A decision was made to keep them around a while so as not to delete someone's work. This one looks like it will be deleted when the "waiting" period is over. Nancy Sculerati MD 22:04, 25 January 2007 (CST)

I'd like to edit and modify this article enough to get it to the point of "CZ Live" status. Where does it get to the point where an article is no longer "just a copy from Wikipedia"? In my opinion Donald Knuth is a worthy addition to the 'Computers Workgroup' articles --Eric M Gearhart 09:57, 2 April 2007 (CDT)

I think this is ready for Live

I was looking at this doing the Big Cleanup and I think the article has been edited enough to be distinct from its Wikipedia counterpart. If there had not been any comments, I would have flagged it as Live.

I'm going to change the Checklist to "Developing" and add the "CZ Live" category to the article, as I agree with you. Also please sign your comments with --~~~~ as it makes reading discussion pages soo much easier... thanks :) --Eric M Gearhart 16:49, 2 April 2007 (CDT)

Archiving table here

Usually, I don't like tables at the top of articles. It's the Wikipedia style, but we're not adopting it as a standard here (as far as I know). So I'm moving the table from the article into here to preserve the info, in case any of it is needed.Pat Palmer 10:48, 26 September 2007 (CDT) Template:Infobox Scientist

archiving "Sense of humor" section from main article for now

I'm not sure we need this stuff, but if we do, it needs rewriting, and the refs need work.Pat Palmer 13:21, 26 September 2007 (CDT)


Famous as a programmer, Knuth is known for his sense of humor.

  • He pays a finder's fee of $2.56 for any typos/mistakes discovered in his books, because "256 pennies is one hexadecimal dollar". (His bounty for errata in 3:16 Bible Texts Illuminated, is, however, $3.16). According to an article in MIT's Technology Review, these reward checks are "among computerdom's most prized trophies".[1]
  • Version numbers of his TeX software approach the transcendental number π, that is versions increment in the style 3, 3.1, 3.14 and so on. Version numbers of Metafont approach the number e similarly.
  • He once warned users of his software, "Beware of bugs in the above code; I have only proved it correct, not tried it."[2]
  • All appendices in the Computers and Typesetting series have titles that begin with the letter identifying the appendix.
  • TAOCP v3 (1973) has the index entry "Royalties, use of, 405". Page 405 has no explicit mention of royalties, but does contain a diagram of an "organ-pipe arrangement" in Figure 2. Apparently the purchase of the pipe organ in his home (see Personal below) was financed by royalties from TAOCP[3].
  • From the Preface of Concrete Mathematics: When DEK taught Concrete Mathematics at Stanford for the first time, he explained the somewhat strange title by saying that it was his attempt to teach a math course that was hard instead of soft. He announced that, contrary to the expectations of some of his colleagues, he was not going to teach the Theory of Aggregates, nor Stone's Embedding Theorem, nor even the Stone-Čech compactification. (Several students from the civil engineering department got up and quietly left the room.)
  • 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 magazine #26, and named the fundamental unit of force "whatmeworry". MAD magazine bought the article and published it in the June 1957 issue.
  • Knuth's first "mathematical" article was a short paper submitted to a "science talent search" contest for high-school seniors in 1955, and published in 1960, in which he discussed number systems where the radix was negative. He further generalized this to number systems where the radix was a complex number. In particular, he defined the quater-imaginary number system, which uses the imaginary number 2i as the base, having the unusual feature that every complex number can be represented with the digits 0, 1, 2, and 3, without a sign.
  • Knuth's article about computational complexity of songs was reprinted twice in computer science journals.

  1. "Rewriting the Bible in 0's and 1's" in the Technology Review of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  2. "Frequently Asked Questions" at Stanford site. Gives the pronunciation of his name as "Ka-NOOTH".
  3. The Pipe Organ of Don and Jill Knuth. Donald Knuth on his home page at Stanford University. Retrieved on 2007-09-25.