Buchtipp: “The Essential Knuth”

The Essential Knuth
Book “The Essential Knuth” containing an autobiographical interview with Donald E. Knuth

In August 2013 Edgar Daylight published a book containing a transcribed interview with Donald E. Knuth of the year before. In this book Mr. Daylight asks questions about DEK’s life, his relation to CS and historical developments in computer science.

A recent interview

“Last November I spent most of a day with Edgar Daylight, a young historian of computer science. He had prepared lots of interesting questions about the early days of computer science, and he tape recorded my answers. Now he has packaged the edited transcripts into a book.”

Followingly I tweeted the book reference:

“’The essential Knuth’ (newly published book) http://lonelyscholar.com/knuth #donknuth #knuth via http://www-cs-faculty.stanford.edu/~knuth/news.html

twitter status by meisterluk in Aug 2013

My brother ordered the book before I had the opportunity to do so ( 😛 ) and gave it to me (Thanks!).

Generally the book follows a chronological ordering. 92 pages is not that much and you could finish reading it at one evening. I think the target audience are old-school people which are familiar with the old days of computer science and want to remember those days. DEK describes how he got the opportunity to work hard to solve mathematical problems during the day time and at night he works with computers. Eventually some day he was able to combine those two fields and got in contact with other famous computer scientists like Edsger Dijkstra and Peter Naur. As a big fan of his I got insight into some of the aspects of his life and which path he followed to become what he is today.

“Is it then correct to describe you as a perfectionist?” “Well, I certainly can’t argue with you about that”

“Furthermore, the things I do don’t scale up; there isn’t a need for ten of me in the world.”

“I had more of a calling to global things; I am mostly thinking about what I can do for people who live far away, people that I’ll never meet.”

“Later, when I wrote TeX, I was extremely careful about portability. I completely avoided floating-point arithmetic in places where the computations could affect page layout. Instead, I implemented my own arithmetic for the internal computations, using integer operations only, and I checked boundary conditions so that my programs would be machine-independent.”

“The definition of good, liberal education is to know somethind about everything and everything about something.”

Buchtipp: “The Essential Knuth”