Thursday 23 April 2020

The Computer Scientist Who Can’t Stop Telling Stories (2020)

The computer scientist Donald Knuth is still going strong. He is working hard on his magnum opus ( ... the greatest achievement of an artist or writer...), the seemingly endless  The Art of Computer Programming, as well as having fun with music and theology. 

HERE is a really good interview with Knuth in Quanta Magazine. 
The Art of Computer Programming is a manifesto. It describes the way I love to do math and the way I wish I had been taught. Beginning on Page 1, I tell the story of algorithms. Most textbooks at the time didn’t explore the human side of discoveries. They just said, “This is how chemistry works,” or “This is how physics works.”

I also tell a technical story. I say, “Here’s something that doesn’t work, and here’s a way to solve that problem.” Instead of presenting only facts, I add drama. Science is much easier to learn if you know the sequence of discoveries. Also, I’m unable to resist a good story. I viewed myself not as a pioneer, but as a journalist.