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Selected Papers on Computer Science (Lecture Notes) 1st Edition

5 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1881526919
ISBN-10: 1881526917
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Knuth is, of course, one of the foremost computer scientists and has been instrumental in the invention of methods for translating and defining programming languages and mathematical analyses of algorithms. It is fair to say that computing as we know it today would not be possible without Knuth's contributions. This is a collection of his less technical publications dealing with the relationship of computer science and mathematics, CS education, and the history of computational techniques from Babylonia to the present including an analysis of John von Neumann's first program. Highly recommended to all serious computer scientists.


'This book should be a necessary asset of any library dealing with Computer Science and related subjects, representing a major piece of culture in Computer Science. Every reader will acquire a sound understanding of the foundation for some key issues in the field ... Knuth is a grand scientific author, whose dissertations on deep and abstract issues are lively and captivating pieces of reading.' David Rozier, Mathematics Today

'This book contains everything Knuth has written on computer science for the non-specialist ... It is a lovely read. What - in sum - can one say, of our delightful discipline and of this delightful book? Enjoy.' Adrian Larner, The Computer Journal

Product Details

  • Series: Lecture Notes (Book 59)
  • Paperback: 276 pages
  • Publisher: Center for the Study of Language and Inf; 1 edition (November 15, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1881526917
  • ISBN-13: 978-1881526919
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #340,079 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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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Knuth's most famous work, the "Art of Computer Programming" series, is justly famed. Bill Gates said something like "If you can read it all the way through, write me and I'll hire you". But most people can't make it through -- they're put off by the use of assembly language, or by the amount of mathematics. I can understand that, and I always wished there was some way to get the essence and excitement of "Art of Computer Programming" without the full treatment. Now there is.

"Selected Papers in Computer Science" succeeds beautifully in showing what its like to be a computer scientist, and how that is related to but different from being a mathematician. At the heart of the book are four essays on "Theory and Practice". Actually, it should be "Practice and Theory", because the only sensible way to progress in any field is to get some practical experience first, and then acquire the theory necessary to understand what you did, and to allow you to do more. Knuth covers this very well for computer science. I am in the habit of dog-earing pages in a book that offer an especially important insight. Looking back at my copy of "Selected Papers", I see that about 40 pages are so marked; an amazingly high ratio for a book of 270 pages. Try a test: read 10 pages from the book at random, if you don't find at least one important insight, then probably this book (and perhaps computer science in general) is not for you. If you do, you can be assured that the full book will give you many more.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Chapter Table of Contents:
0. Algorithms, Programs, and CS
1. CS and its Relation to Math
2. Math and CS: Coping with Finiteness
3. Algorithms
4. Algorithms in Modern Math and CS
5. Algorithms Themes
6.-9. Theory and Practice I..IV
10. Are Toy Problems Useful?
11. Ancient Babylonian Algorithms
12. Von Neumann's First Computer Program (sorting)
13. The IBM 650: An Appreciation from the Field
14. George Forsythe and the Development of Computer Science
15. Artistic Programming
1) Computer Science faculty and graduate students.
2) Mathematicians.
3) other scientists who want to understand their computer science colleagues.
Knuth is best known for his huge corpus
The Art of Computer Programming [TAOCP] (at this time vols. I-III)
This text (Selected Papers) really isn't for beginning programmers
(TAOCP is better for this even if more dense).
"Selected" is not a How-to book.
It's the Philosophy of the PhD on the computing field.
Yes. Selected Papers has a fair amount of algebra.
The level of math required to understand and appreciate the book:
for several of the papers, the reader needs an understanding of combinatorics:
'n!' as factorial (not exclamination point), running sums,
matrix algebra, and a bit of calculus. Other papers have practically no math (the last 3 and the opening chapter[0]).
Heavy emphasis appears on the concept of the iterative nature of Algorithms
(in contrast to other sciences which seek closed form solutions).
Can you read it w/o the math? Sure, but you would be losing major points (read it with a knowledgeable friend).
The Reading:
I really liked the paper on Toy problems.
Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
I've put this book #6 in my Top 100 Programming, Computer and Science books list:


This is one of the most accessible of Knuth's books. I enjoyed it a lot. It's written for people who aren't necessarily specialists in the subject. It's for educated people in all fields and you don't need to know too much math to read through this book.

Knuth says the following about this book, "If any of my work deserves to be remembered, it is now in the form that I most wish people to remember it.". Knuth discusses topics such as coping with finiteness, usefulness of toy problems, theory vs practice, history of algorithms, Von Neumann's first computer program, and many others.

This is the book to buy if you want to get familiar with Knuth's work in an accessible way and learn something new without much effort.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful book. It is a collection of papers on computer science, intended for a general audience. The technical parts are accessible to someone with a mathematical background.

Some of my highlights:
- chapter 1: a nice analysis of hashing
- chapter 2: many combinatorial problems where we can find the best solution quickly, even though there is a vast number of possible solutions
- chapter 3: many algorithms for looking up a word in a set of words
- chapter 5: nice discussion about Euclid's GCD algorithm
- chapter 10: Knuth's solution to a problem that Bob Floyd would give to incoming PhD students at Stanford
- chapter 16: How George Forsythe was instrumental in starting the field of computer science
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Format: Paperback
I left a very good review for the Hardcover edition of this book. It is the SAME book and definitely a must have. Depends on your pocket and your dedication to the subject whether you want to invest in the much costlier hard cover edition or this paperback edition. As a student I bought this cheaper one, but then now since I am working professional, I invested in the hardcover edition so that it remains in my library longer.
Regardless, a must buy. I recommend that you read my review of the hardcover edition for more details.
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