Donald Knuth

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Donald Ervin Knuth (pronounced /kəˈnuːθ/[1] kə-NOOTH) (born January 10, 1938) is a computer scientist and Professor Emeritus of the Art of Computer Programming at Stanford University.[2]

Author of the seminal multi-volume work The Art of Computer Programming,[3] Knuth has been called the "father" of the analysis of algorithms, contributing to the development of, and systematizing formal mathematical techniques for, the rigorous analysis of the computational complexity of algorithms, and in the process popularizing 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.

A writer and scholar,[4] Knuth created the WEB/CWEB computer programming systems designed to encourage and facilitate literate programming, and designed the MMIX instruction set architecture.


Education and academic work

Knuth was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where his father owned a small printing business and taught bookkeeping at Milwaukee Lutheran High School, where he 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.[5]

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 Theta Chi Fraternity. In 1958, Knuth helped found the CIT magazine Engineering and Science Review. He then switched from physics to mathematics, and in 1960 he received his bachelor of science degree, simultaneously receiving his master of science degree by a special award of the faculty who considered his work outstanding. At Case, he managed the basketball team and applied his talents by constructing a formula for the value of each player. This novel approach was covered by Newsweek and by Walter Cronkite on the CBS television network.[6] As an undergraduate at Case, Knuth was hired to write compilers for different computers.

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