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A Look At The Half-Century Life And Work Of Donald Knuth, Creator Of The Art Of Programming

Yoda Is A Fictional Character In The Star Wars Series. Yoda Is A Wise And Powerful Master Who Leads The “Separations”. For Nearly Half A Century, Donald Knuth (Who Is Not Unlike Yoda Because Of His Height And Glasses) Has Ruled The Algorithm As A Leader.

Donald Knuth is the author of The Art of Computer Programming. A four-volume masterpiece from his working life. The first volume of the book was released in 1968, and other volumes (sold as a packaged collection for $ 250) were published in 2013 by American Scientist, along with books such as the special edition of Charles Darwin’s Biography.

The Right Stuff by Tom Wolf, The Silent Spring by Richard Carson, and The Monographs by Albert Einstein, John von Neumann, and Richard Feynman are among the science books of the century.

The long, comprehensive, and complete book, The Art of Computer Programming, is one of the most valuable books in print. 

The first volume of this book begins with a quote from “McCall’s cookbook”: 

“This book belongs to you, a book that you asked for publication by sending thousands of letters. “It has taken many years to write this book, we have studied many different recipes so that we can provide you with the best, most interesting, and most complete ones.” And after 652 pages, it ends with a quote from Ozbil Gates on the back cover: “If you can read it all, send me a resume.”

The content of the book includes algorithms. Instructions that the digital age feeds on. However, Dr. Knuth believes that “algorithms can be found in Babylonian inscriptions 3,800 years ago.” 

He is a distinguished algorithm programmer, and his name stands out in some of the most important examples, such as the string search algorithm or the string matching algorithm (Knuth-Morris-Pratt).

 Designed in 1970, this algorithm can find all the words or letter patterns in a text. 

For example, when you press Command + F to search for a keyword in a document. 

Dr. Knuth is now 80 years old. In his younger days, he worked close to the machine and honestly wrote about the messes he made with zeros and ones. 

“Knuth showed that this system can be understood from any angle up to the level of the machine code,” says Dr. Noyg. Of course, today, despite the algorithms that program (and attenuate) our lives and existence, another average programmer has no time for binary manipulation, instead of with abstract hierarchies, top layers of code, and often chains of code from loan code libraries. Taken, it works. 

“Sometimes at Google, we just introduce employees to each other, but when it’s going to serve billions of users, it has to be done effectively,” says Dr. Navig.

 “A 10 percent improvement in productivity will lead to billions of dollars, and to reach the final level of productivity, we need to know everything.”

figure 1 . Donald Knuth at his home in Stanford, California. He is a perfectionist and famous, and according to him, anyone who finds a mistake in any of his books will receive a reward.

figure 2 . Dr. Knuth at the Institute of Technology in California, where he received his Ph.D. in 1963.


“We want to have a theoretical basis for everything we do,” said Andrew Broder, a leading Google scientist and graduate of Dr. Kenneth. “We do not want an incomplete or low-value or quadratic algorithm.”

Launched in 2016, the Google Trips app is an “orientation algorithm” that plans proposed tourism activities in one day. This group of people is working on “improving the quality of dull days”. For example, they do not send users to neighborhoods they have already visited to see different places. 

They were inspired by a 300-year-old algorithm owned by the Swiss mathematician Leonard Euler.

 (Someone who wanted to draw a roadmap to the Prussian city of Kیnigsberg in such a way that the route crossed the city’s 7 bridges only once.) In his first volume, Dr. Knuth addresses this old Euler problem. 

(He once used the Euler method in computer programming that controlled the sewing machine.) Dr. Knuth is known for introducing the concept of “literary programming.”

 Literary programming emphasizes writing code that can be read by humans and computers.

Dr. Knuth is a perfectionist. Randall Monroe, cartoonist and author of “Thing Explainer,” first heard Dr. Knuth’s name from a computer scientist who said, “Dr. Knuth has promised to reward anyone who finds a mistake in any of his books.” “These people were talking about the Knuth Prize as if it were the Nobel Prize in Computer Science,” Monroe said.

 Dr. Knuth’s strict standards show why his work life is unlike any other. Kenneth bet with Google co-founder Sergey Brin on whether Brin could finish his doctorate before finishing his books.

Rise of the algorithm

Dr. Kenuth published his first technical paper in Mad Magazine at the age of 19 and became a computer scientist before computer science. He is studying mathematics at what is now the Case Western Reserve, and a quick look at examples of the university’s IBM 650 (a decimal computer) software shows its shortcomings and the software and textbooks used in the classroom.

Rewrote. In a side project, he did statistics for the basketball team. He wrote a computer program and helped the basketball team win their league. 

Dr. Knuth earned more money than other professors during the summer holidays because of his compiler writing. Like a compiler, the compiler converts a high-level programming language (like algebra) into a lower-level (sometimes secret binary) language and ideally improves it.

 In computer science, “optimization” is actually an art.

Eventually, Dr. Knuth himself became a compiler and found a new discipline called “algorithm analysis.” A publisher invited him to write a book about compilers, but his writing eventually led to a book entitled “His Knowledge of Computers”; “A Book on Algorithms.”

Figure 3. In 1981, Dr. Knuth was looking at Mad Magazine, which published his first technical paper. He was 19 years old at the time. 

Figure 4. The four-volume book “The Art of Computer Programming”.

 “The Art of Computer Programming,” Volumes 1 to 4. “If You Can Read All 4, Send Me a Resume,” Bilgates wrote in an exaggerated announcement in the New York Times.

 The book begins: “At the time of the Renaissance, the origin of this word was unknown, and early linguists were trying to find the root of the word by combining words such as Algrios {painful} + Arithmos {number..” “A similar name is used in the ninth-century Persian book by Abu Abdullah Muhammad ibn Musa Kharazmi (Latin: Algorithmic),” Knuth continues.

 He never gave up part-time work and traveled to Al-Khwarizmi’s ancestral land in Uzbekistan in 1970.

Dr. Knuth originally intended to write only one volume of the book. But when computer science experienced its “big bang”, it decided to present the project in seven volumes. 

He strictly manages his time to increase the chances of finishing his books. He retired at the age of 55, restricting his public jobs and quitting email. 

According to Andrei Broder, one of the hallmarks of the master has been time management since the early 1980s.

Dr. Kenuth spent Friday mornings with students and spent the nights in the lab of John McCarthy, the founder of artificial intelligence, to access computers that were not in use at night at the time. 

Terrified of what would happen to his beloved book with the advent of digital publishing, Dr. Knuth thought of creating the TeX computerized typing system, the gold standard for all types of communication and scientific texts. Some consider Dr. Knuth to be his greatest contribution to the world and his greatest contribution to typography since Gutenberg.

This 10-year period goes back to a time when computers were shared among users and speeded up at night when people were asleep. So Dr. Knuth shifted his day-to-day work tonight, changed his work schedule to 12 hours, and postponed his student appointments to Fridays from 8 a.m. to midnight. 

Figure 5. Dr. Knuth discusses typography with Hermann Zapf, a typist. Dr. Knuth’s TeX computer typing system is considered by many to be the greatest contribution to typography since Gutenberg.

Inevitably, algorithmic computations cause problems in the real world. Man-made algorithms solve difficult problems, but they produce code that comes with biases, which are troublesome enough. 

Perhaps more troubling are the algorithms that humans do not write, that is, algorithms written by machines based on their learning.

Programmers continue to train the machine and feed the data to them. (Data is a new area of ​​bias and bugs, and bugs and bias in this area are much more difficult to fix).

 “We’re writing algorithms that we can’t read, and it creates a unique moment in history where we are influenced by ideas, actions, and efforts that conform to science,” says Kevin Slavin, a researcher at MIT Media Lab.

“They are physical beings of human origin but do not have a human understanding.”

Figure 6. Dr. Knuth at his desk in 1999

Figure 7. Some notes by Dr. Kenuth

Today, programmers use what Knuth and others have used as components of the algorithm and integrate them with other things they need. Artificial intelligence does the same thing; That is, the integration part is done automatically and based on data and not on the work of the programmer. 

You want AI to be able to integrate components to get a good data-driven response. 

But you have to decide what those components are. Components can be a page or a chapter of a book, as this is the best way to do some things.

Dr. Knuth continues to work. He states that it will take another 25 years to complete The Art of Computer Programming, although this has been the case since the 1980s. Is it possible to write algorithms at the end of the book as chapters or pages? “Definitely not,” Kenneth replied.

“I’m worried that algorithms will become very prominent in the world. When we started, computer scientists were worried that no one would listen to us. “Now we are worried that many people will listen to us.”