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Digital Typography (Center for the Study of Language and Information - Lecture Notes)

8 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1575860114
ISBN-10: 1575860112
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Editorial Reviews


'This wonderful new book contains Don Knuth's articles on TeX and METAFONT, and includes important archival material ... Reading this book is like holding in your hand twenty years of history. My view of TeX, and of the Computer Modern fonts that I use every day, has been changed completely by this book.'

Book Description

One of the foremost figures in the field of mathematical sciences, Knuth has written papers which are widely referenced and stand as milestones of development over a wide range of topics. In this collection, the second in the series, Knuth explores the relationship between computers and typography.

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Product Details

  • Series: Center for the Study of Language and Information - Lecture Notes (Book 78)
  • Hardcover: 720 pages
  • Publisher: Center for the Study of Language and Inf (June 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1575860112
  • ISBN-13: 978-1575860114
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,944,829 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Donald E. Knuth was born on January 10, 1938 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He studied mathematics as an undergraduate at Case Institute of Technology, where he also wrote software at the Computing Center. The Case faculty took the unprecedented step of awarding him a Master's degree together with the B.S. he received in 1960. After graduate studies at California Institute of Technology, he received a Ph.D. in Mathematics in 1963 and then remained on the mathematics faculty. Throughout this period he continued to be involved with software development, serving as consultant to Burroughs Corporation from 1960-1968 and as editor of Programming Languages for ACM publications from 1964-1967.

He joined Stanford University as Professor of Computer Science in 1968, and was appointed to Stanford's first endowed chair in computer science nine years later. As a university professor he introduced a variety of new courses into the curriculum, notably Data Structures and Concrete Mathematics. In 1993 he became Professor Emeritus of The Art of Computer Programming. He has supervised the dissertations of 28 students.

Knuth began in 1962 to prepare textbooks about programming techniques, and this work evolved into a projected seven-volume series entitled The Art of Computer Programming. Volumes 1-3 first appeared in 1968, 1969, and 1973. Having revised these three in 1997, he is now working full time on the remaining volumes. Volume 4A appeared at the beginning of 2011. More than one million copies have already been printed, including translations into ten languages.

He took ten years off from that project to work on digital typography, developing the TeX system for document preparation and the METAFONT system for alphabet design. Noteworthy by-products of those activities were the WEB and CWEB languages for structured documentation, and the accompanying methodology of Literate Programming. TeX is now used to produce most of the world's scientific literature in physics and mathematics.

His research papers have been instrumental in establishing several subareas of computer science and software engineering: LR(k) parsing; attribute grammars; the Knuth-Bendix algorithm for axiomatic reasoning; empirical studies of user programs and profiles; analysis of algorithms. In general, his works have been directed towards the search for a proper balance between theory and practice.

Professor Knuth received the ACM Turing Award in 1974 and became a Fellow of the British Computer Society in 1980, an Honorary Member of the IEEE in 1982. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences, and the National Academy of Engineering; he is also a foreign associate of l'Academie des Sciences (Paris), Det Norske Videnskaps-Akademi (Oslo), Bayerische Akademie der Wissenschaften (Munich), the Royal Society (London), and Rossiiskaya Akademia Nauk (Moscow). He holds five patents and has published approximately 160 papers in addition to his 28 books. He received the Medal of Science from President Carter in 1979, the American Mathematical Society's Steele Prize for expository writing in 1986, the New York Academy of Sciences Award in 1987, the J.D. Warnier Prize for software methodology in 1989, the Adelskøld Medal from the Swedish Academy of Sciences in 1994, the Harvey Prize from the Technion in 1995, and the Kyoto Prize for advanced technology in 1996. He was a charter recipient of the IEEE Computer Pioneer Award in 1982, after having received the IEEE Computer Society's W. Wallace McDowell Award in 1980; he received the IEEE's John von Neumann Medal in 1995. He holds honorary doctorates from Oxford University, the University of Paris, St. Petersburg University, and more than a dozen colleges and universities in America.

Professor Knuth lives on the Stanford campus with his wife, Jill. They have two children, John and Jennifer. Music is his main avocation.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on March 23, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book won't teach you TeX or Metafont. It might not even teach you all that much about particular algorithms (although Chapter 3 is one of the most detailed explanations of TeX's linebreaking algorithms published anywhere). Instead, this book offers a look behind the scenes.
Instead of beholding TeX and Metafont in their almost final versions, as published in _TeX: The Program_ and _Metafont: The Program_, respectively, you see them grow from the first design studies (when Knuth thought of TeX as a program for two grad students to write over a summer) to where they are today. You see how the collaboration between Knuth and Zapf on the Euler fonts worked, and you get another glance at many facets of Knuth's mind (And a beautiful mind it is indeed, even though it is entirely sane).
If you have any deeper interest in TeX and Metafont, this book is well worth the money.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 11, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book collects numerous writings on TeX and typography from one of the greatest coumputer scientists of all time, Donald Knuth. Here you get to read fascinating inside information on Knuth's earliest development of TeX, how doggone hard he worked to get the letter "S" just right in his computer modern fonts, how to typeset his wife's recipes, and other bits of amazing minutiae. Knuth's style is breezy and funny in a wry-dry kind of way. (He's the kind of down-to-earth genius you'd love to take out to dinner.), and I was amused to find out that he seems to be a film buff. (His journal from his early work on TeX shows that he went to see "Earthquake," for goshsakes, "to relax"!)
This is a brilliant book, a book to treasure, and with its relatively short essays, a book to keep handy for bathroom reading. But then again, you may get addicted and just keep reading one chapter after another! If you love TeX (or LaTeX or AMS-TeX) as much as I do, you'll have to have this book. It's that good, and you will not only be astounded by his genius, entertained by the presentation, but you'll learn things too. Trust me on this one.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By kbs on May 18, 2007
Format: Paperback
I got this book primarily to understand the word-wrapping algorithm in TeX,

and just that chapter alone was worth the price of the book.

Having said that... when explaining algorithms, I find Knuth concentrates so

much on the minutiae that the bigger picture is often lost; but that's just

his style and the exposition is always very clear. I've gone through parts

of TAOCP, so his style of teaching wasn't a complete surprise to me.

The word-wrapping chapter itself has a very leisurely style with a lot

of history and background, and it was a very enlightening and pleasant read.

The book itself is a selection of papers, articles, transcripts

of talks and working documents by Knuth on TeX and Metafont

(for the most part.)

Some chapters were not particularly interesting to me, they dealt with

specifics of tricky typesetting with TeX, which I feel has a clumsy

programming syntax.

Other chapters were great reading as they dealt with the historical

development of TeX and Metafont. For example, he writes about his collaboration

with Hermann Zapf on the AMS Euler typeface, which gives great insights

on how fonts were developed with Metafont. There are a couple of chapters talking

about his fascination with digital typography and his gradual descent (or is that

ascent!) into developing TeX and Metafont, and they were fun to read.

If you're a Knuth fan, you'll definitely want to get this book. The historical

material makes for nice, light reading, and if you get the urge, you can plunge

into the technical chapters and see some interesting gears within TeX

and Metafont.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By John Lacey on May 15, 1999
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you haven't heard of TeX this probably isn't the place to start. But for a scintillating peek behind the scenes at twenty years of TeX and Metafont, this is the book to read.
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