A Brief Biography Of Donald Ervin Knuth (1938 – present)
Author of “The Art of Computer Programming”; creator of TEX and METAFONT; and inventor of the strangest software versioning systems ever. Well known for many reasons, famous for a few; Donald Ervin Knuth is most certainly a legend in his own lifetime.
His series of books, The Art of Computer Programming [‘TAOCP’], was first introduced to the public in 1968. It is still in production. Volumes 1 to 3 are available at all good bookshops, with volume 5 currently scheduled for release in 2010. Advance order your copies now. Once he completes volume five, Donald thinks that the time will be about right for a revision of volumes 1-3. Don’t expect this any time soon.
Knuth offers $2.56 to each person that alerts him to an error in one of his published works. Why $2.56? Well, because that’s the number of pennies in a hexadecimal dollar, of course.
In between writing what is arguably the most famous and respected computer science text ever produced, performing the duties of a retired professor, being an accomplished organist, and winning a plethora of awards, Knuth produced the TEX software and METAFONT language.
The versioning systems used for his creations are unique and somewhat quirky. New versions of TEX are numbered with versions approaching pi; METAFONT’s versioning system similarly approaches e. Once Knuth passes from this realm, the development of the software and language will stop, with any remaining bugs remaining as “features”. This appears to be the inspiration behind much of the development of the Windows Operating System which contains an ever increasing array of interesting “features”.
A quote from the man himself: “Beware of bugs in the above code; I have only proved it correct, not tried it”.