Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Programming Books Math

Knuth Previews New Math Section For 'The Art of Computer Programming' (stanford.edu) 176

In 1962, 24-year-old Donald Knuth began writing The Art of Computer Programming -- and 55 years later, he's still working on it. An anonymous reader quotes Knuth's web site at Stanford: Volume 4B will begin with a special section called 'Mathematical Preliminaries Redux', which extends the 'Mathematical Preliminaries' of Section 1.2 in Volume 1 to things that I didn't know about in the 1960s. Most of this new material deals with probabilities and expectations of random events; there's also an introduction to the theory of martingales.

You can have a sneak preview by looking at the current draft of pre-fascicle 5a (52 pages), last updated 18 January 2017. As usual, rewards will be given to whoever is first to find and report errors or to make valuable suggestions. I'm particularly interested in receiving feedback about the exercises (of which there are 125) and their answers (of which there are 125).

Over the years Knuth gave out over $20,000 in rewards, though most people didn't cash his highly-coveted "hexadecimal checks", and in 2008 Knuth switched to honorary "hexadecimal certificates". In 2014 Knuth complained about the "dumbing down" of computer science history, and his standards remain high. In his most-recent update, 79-year-old Knuth reminds readers that "There's stuff in here that isn't in Wikipedia yet!"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Knuth Previews New Math Section For 'The Art of Computer Programming'

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 21, 2017 @09:55PM (#53713485)

    Thanks, Donald!

  • by Anonymous Coward

      I'm just a girl

  • by Snotnose ( 212196 ) on Saturday January 21, 2017 @10:08PM (#53713525)
    I've never looked at PHP. I have done javascript/ecmascript. A pathetic pile of shit called a language. I've heard PHP is worse than ecmascript, but as I've never done PHP I don't really know.

    So, you taught yourself PHP and can call whatsisname irrelevant?

    I can only hope I can somehow track your screen name to the name on your resume and get it shitcanned before it hits my desk.

    bought Knuth's 3 books in the 80s

    invaluable

    retired, haven't bought any of his newer books
    • Read this, don't feel bad: https://eev.ee/blog/2012/04/09... [eev.ee]

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I mean, "Concrete Mathematics" is a great book more accessible than his TAoCP math sections, more encompassing and with its own approach towards notational conventions. Basically I turn to it when the TAoCP math sections get stuck in too dense and obscure descriptive and ad-hoc math.

    When the math is mainly accompanying algorithms, it just cannot be stacked up in a pedagogical and accumulative manner but has to follow the ordering of the algorithms.

    And make no mistake: TAoCP is obscure and quaint and with l

  • by allo ( 1728082 ) on Sunday January 22, 2017 @06:50AM (#53714671)

    But craftmanship.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      But craftmanship.

      Knuth started his series long before uncle Bob and his friends named software craftsmanship, so I don't think it would be reasonable to give this criticism even if it was correct. However it actually isn't. Craftsmanship overlaps greatly with art. Great tables are not just well made but beautiful and artistically made. A wooden sculpture requires real craftsmanship if you want to have maximum control over the shapes.

      In this case there is very important artistry is in making the code clearly communicativ

      • by allo ( 1728082 )

        Yeah, of course there is a great overlap. The trade off is, that you need an art to have beautiful code, but you need craftmanship to decide NOT to use the elegant code, but the fast one. Or not to write a clever loop with pointer calculations, but just copy&paste the line three times. You always need to decide if theres the place for the most beautiful code or for one that works and can be understood without having read many cs books.
        Wasn't Knuth the guy, who wrote "i did not test it, i only proven it

  • by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Sunday January 22, 2017 @07:31AM (#53714751)

    For example, even simple things like hash tables and balanced trees are beyond what most current CS graduates can implement or do understand. Forget about things a bit more complicated like a complexity analysis, or a formally specified invariant or pre- and post-conditions. If you do not understand the basics, all higher-order constructs are meaningless because you can only memorize how they behave, but you can never understand it or verify your understanding. And your understanding will at the very least be incomplete and partially wrong.

    CS continues to fail (and in fact it is getting worse) at education engineers. Yet the human race knows that for technology you need engineers as soon as you are customizing things or doing new things. Until and unless this gets finally understood and becomes the norm, software and everything built around it will continue to suck badly.

    • by cpghost ( 719344 )
      I couldn't agree more. Most CS graduates can get by writing and maintaining application code, but as soon as it gets to getting their hands dirty and doing library / infrastructure work, i.e. touch real data structures, etc., good luck with that! And that's only foundational stuff... I'm not even mentioning serious aspects like IT security, where a solid mathematical understanding of crypto basics is required nowadays, along with a good base of discrete mathematics, complexity theory and so on. Your typical
  • last one was 4a....

    Last was 4a. First two were massively outdated. I still have to still admit they are about "computer science". Which should not be what graduates in computers should not have graduated in since '85. Should have been a balance between the science and the engineering. The science part being encryption. Everything else he explained in obtuse language. I'm actually sad he never wrote "the" book on making a compiler. He could have actually predicted superscaler branch prediction with whic

  • Obligatory Doctor Fun [ibiblio.org] reference.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Is anybody aware of better alternatives that are easier to read and can still impart the necessary mathematical background knowledge?

    Some people here already mentioned a couple: "Concrete Mathematics" (Ronald L. Graham and Donald E. Knuth, 1994), and "Introduction to Algorithms" (Thomas H. Cormen and Charles E. Leiserson, 2009).

  • by CaptainDork ( 3678879 ) on Sunday January 22, 2017 @12:12PM (#53715745)

    ... "The Art of the Pussy Grab."

  • This series is epic and a book shelf must have for any serious computer scientist or engineer.
  • As a pure coincidence, it wasn't two days ago that I was editing Wikipedia about Knuth, TeX, etc. One thing I have wondered before and wonder now is if he has some plan for what happens to the work once he dies. Simply put, at this pace, he will not finish the book. Is anyone working with him to ensure that it is completed if he dies? Does anyone know? I'd like to ask him via snail mail but I frankly don't want to waste his time.
    • As a pure coincidence, it wasn't two days ago that I was editing Wikipedia about Knuth, TeX, etc. One thing I have wondered before and wonder now is if he has some plan for what happens to the work once he dies. Simply put, at this pace, he will not finish the book. Is anyone working with him to ensure that it is completed if he dies? Does anyone know? I'd like to ask him via snail mail but I frankly don't want to waste his time.

      That'd be a fun exchange of letters.

  • There's a scene in MASH where Hawkeye and Trapper are coaching Radar for a date with a a brainy gal.
    They tell him If she mentions Bach, just nod your head and say knowingly - 'ah - Bach!'
    That's the relationship most comp sci majors had with Knuth - they paid lip service to his books which few have even read.
    This from back in an era when all programs were expected to be mathematically proven correct.

Consultants are mystical people who ask a company for a number and then give it back to them.

Working...