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Twenty Questions For Donald Knuth

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Donald E. Knuth, professor emeritus at Stanford University.

Author Donald Knuth responded to questions as part of a celebration of the publication of the eBooks of The Art of Computer Programming.


To celebrate the publication of the eBooks of The Art of Computer Programming, (TAOCP), we asked several computer scientists, contemporaries, colleagues, and well-wishers to pose one question each to author Donald E. Knuth. Here are his answers.

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1. Jon Bentley, researcher: What a treat! The last time I had an opportunity like this was at the end of your data structures class at Stanford in June, 1974. On the final day, you opened the floor so that we could ask any question on any topic, barring only politics and religion. I still vividly remember one question that was asked on that day: "Among all the programs you've written, of which one are you most proud?" Your answer (as I approximately recall it, four decades later) described a compiler that you wrote for a minicomputer with 1024 available bytes of memory. Your first draft was 1029 bytes long, but you eventually had it up and running and debugged at 1023 bytes. You said that you were particularly proud of cramming so much functionality into so little memory. My query today is a slight variant on that venerable question. Of all the programs that you've written, what are some of which you are most proud, and why?

Don Knuth: I'd like to ask you the same! But that's something like asking parents to name their favorite children.


From "Twenty Questions for Donald Knuth"
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