Programming Books C Java PHP Python Learn more Browse Programming Books

The Art of Computer Programming, Vols. 1-3
See larger image

Used - Like New | See details
Sold by RentU.
Access codes and supplements are not guaranteed with used items.
Sell Us Your Item
For a $24.92 Gift Card
Trade in
Have one to sell? Sell yours here
Tell the Publisher!
I'd like to read this book on Kindle

Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here, or download a FREE Kindle Reading App.

The Art of Computer Programming, Vols. 1-3 [Box set] [Hardcover]

Donald E. Knuth
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)

Available from these sellers.

Free Two-Day Shipping for College Students with Amazon Student

Shop the new
New! Introducing the, a hub for Software Developers and Architects, Networking Administrators, TPMs, and other technology professionals to find highly-rated and highly-relevant career resources. Shop books on programming and big data, or read this week's blog posts by authors and thought-leaders in the tech industry. > Shop now
There is a newer edition of this item:
The Art of Computer Programming, Volumes 1-4A Boxed Set The Art of Computer Programming, Volumes 1-4A Boxed Set 4.8 out of 5 stars (40)
In Stock.

Book Description

October 15, 1998 0201485419 978-0201485417 3rd

Finally, after a wait of more than thirty-five years, the first part of Volume 4 is at last ready for publication. Check out the boxed set that brings together Volumes 1 - 4A in one elegant case, and offers the purchaser a $50 discount off the price of buying the four volumes individually.


The Art of Computer Programming, Volumes 1-4A Boxed Set, 3/e

ISBN: 0321751043 

Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

"The bible of all fundamental algorithms and the work that taught many of today's software developers most of what they know about computer programming."-- Byte, Sept 1995

"If you think you're a really good programmer, [Knuth's] Art of Computer Programming....You should definitely send me a resume if you can read the whole thing." -- Bill Gates

This Knuth set is perfect for your own reference bookshelf, and makes an ideal gift for any serious student or practitioner of computer programming.

From the Back Cover

This multivolume work is widely recognized as the definitive description of classical computer science. The first three volumes have for decades been an invaluable resource in programming theory and practice for students, researchers, and practitioners alike.


The bible of all fundamental algorithms and the work that taught many of today’s software developers most of what they know about computer programming.

–Byte, September 1995


Countless readers have spoken about the profound personal influence of Knuth’s work. Scientists have marveled at the beauty and elegance of his analysis, while ordinary programmers have successfully applied his “cookbook” solutions to their day-to-day problems. All have admired Knuth for the breadth, clarity, accuracy, and good humor found in his books.


I can’t begin to tell you how many pleasurable hours of study and recreation they have afforded me! I have pored over them in cars, restaurants, at work, at home… and even at a Little League game when my son wasn’t in the line-up.

–Charles Long


Primarily written as a reference, some people have nevertheless found it possible and interesting to read each volume from beginning to end. A programmer in China even compared the experience to reading a poem.


If you think you’re a really good programmer… read [Knuth’s] Art of Computer Programming… You should definitely send me a résumé if you can read the whole thing.

–Bill Gates


Whatever your background, if you need to do any serious computer programming, you will find your own good reason to make each volume in this series a readily accessible part of your scholarly or professional library.


It’s always a pleasure when a problem is hard enough that you have to get the Knuths off the shelf. I find that merely opening one has a very useful terrorizing effect on computers.

–Jonathan Laventhol


For the first time in more than 20 years, Knuth has revised all three books to reflect more recent developments in the field. His revisions focus specifically on those areas where knowledge has converged since publication of the last editions, on problems that have been solved, on problems that have changed. In keeping with the authoritative character of these books, all historical information about previous work in the field has been updated where necessary. Consistent with the author’s reputation for painstaking perfection, the rare technical errors in his work, discovered by perceptive and demanding readers, have all been corrected. Hundreds of new exercises have been added to raise new challenges.



Important Information

Example Ingredients

Example Directions

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 896 pages
  • Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional; 3rd edition (October 15, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0201485419
  • ISBN-13: 978-0201485417
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 5 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,085,232 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
212 of 222 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitive June 15, 1999
By A Customer
As Knuth himself says, it is impossible for any one person to keep up with all the research in computer science, but these 3 volumes do a remarkably good job of distilling the most important results and explaining them with mathematical rigor.
Each volume contains 2 chapters. Ch. 1, Basic Concepts: mathematical foundations and a description of MIX, a hypothetical machine (now available in software emulations). Ch. 2, Information Structures: lists, trees, memory allocation, garbage collection. Ch. 3, Random Numbers: how to produce series of "random" numbers and test their statistical properties. Ch. 4, Arithmetic: algorithms for integer and floating-point arithmetic. Ch. 5, Sorting: both in memory and on disks or tapes. Ch. 6, Searching: sequential, binary, hashing.
Despite the detailed coverage of the topics, which often involves esoteric mathematical notation, the author's lively style makes the algorithms and the main theoretical results relatively easy to grasp. If all you care about is getting a program to run, buy another book; but if you really want to understand how and why software works, there's nothing quite like this.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
154 of 161 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, for certain people! April 4, 2000
By A Customer
These books are indisputably classics of the field, and like all classics they have religious adherents and equally firm detractors. The key difference between the two groups is that the adherents are interested in computer SCIENCE, whereas the rest are more taken with computer programming. The books are well written, quite mathematical, and abstract. The books deal with the core subjects of computer science and shy away from the trendy, and so some people tend to see them as anachronistic. Nevertheless, they are deservedly core references in computer science, and a joy for any patient, theoretically minded reader. There are three points I believe should be made. 1) a lot of the detractors of the books are saying correct things: the books don't deal with hot topics, they do present things in greater detail than is necessary in day to day programming, they are books they require a lot of the reader. What they don't recognize is that this is the intention, and that there is nothing wrong with that. The book is targeted at those with a geniune interest in theoretical computer science. 2) many reviewers complain about Knuth's typesetting system, TeX. What they fail to recognize is that TeX is incredibly useful, and about as user friendly as could be expected, for the task for which it was designed: typesetting professional quality mathematics. Anyone who challenges this statement would have to contend with virtually the entire community of people who write papers using higher mathematics, including virtually all professional physicists, mathematicians, and computer scientists. 3) some people accuse Knuth's books of being poorly written. These people are ignorant: either they have not read the works, or they would not recognize skillful writing if they saw it. Read more ›
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
43 of 43 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Definitive but Daunting January 18, 2003
By Jason
It is with good reason that these books are so well-respected in the field. These books have enough depth for several years of careful study and will be quite rewarding for anyone who takes the time. Still, there are a couple of things to keep in mind before jumping in:
(1) These books are not for the mathematically weak-at-heart. The first section, of over 100 pages, is on mathematical preliminaries. While it is true that there are many later sections that can be understood without this background, to truly get the most from these books will take some mathematical maturity,
(2) The algorithms and programs in the book will be difficult to understand to the modern reader, since they are written in an unstructured (i.e. GOTO-centric) style. Program code is given in assembly language for a fictional computer called MIX. Knuth may have his reasons for sticking with this form, but the reader should be aware that some extra work will be required to follow along.
Aside from these caveats, these books come highly recommended.
Was this review helpful to you?
66 of 72 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Yeah, but is it art? December 9, 2005
Thirty five years ago, after five years of experience programming scientific applications (mostly math stuff, not much real programming beyond algorithms) I began a job programming business applications. At that time, there was very little general communal knowledge about very basic stuff we take for granted today like searching, sorting, memory allocation, data structures...

I began my collection with Knuth and another book (no longer in print) dedicated to data structures. These books defined me as a programmer. I learned MIX only because, as a programmer, I felt that I should be able to understand Knuth's abstraction. I admit that I was frustrated by having to do this. Ironically, even back then, the "other book" used, what was the de facto standard for generically describing algorithms, an ALGOL like language-very pretty!

Many of us have looked forward to Knuth rewriting his artful collection to satisfy our sense of aesthetics. We don't consider that he would have to repeat this huge task over and over again. Or (save me from this one) he could produce an obnoxious series of books titled "The Art of Computer Programming in C", "The Art of Computer Programming in C++", "The Art of Computer Programming in JAVA", "The Art of Computer Programming in C#", and (my favorite) "The Art of Computer Programming for Dummies". I thank Knuth for not doing this, although the last would certainly have a wide audience. Publishers know what they are about.

Another reason, in my humble opinion, that Knuth probably holds to MIX is that the latest generation of programmers do not have a clue what it is like to program a machine directly, or what is happening underneath the hood. There is a huge leap from MIX to MACRO, but the basic principles are still relevant.
Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Must have
Must-have series for any computer scientist or software engineer.
Published 2 months ago by B. MCGAVOCK
1.0 out of 5 stars 896 Pages?
I have tried (twice) to get Amazon to correct the page count for this item. Per the publisher's site, InformIT, volume 1 (3rd ed) is 672 pages, volume 2 (3rd ed) is 784 pages and... Read more
Published 9 months ago by M. BUSH
5.0 out of 5 stars Like really new books
Books are in great condition and these books are classic. Donald Knuth did a great job with the exposed contents
Published 21 months ago by Walter
5.0 out of 5 stars Just try sorting and searching with out this book.
I have to admit I am poor so I just bought the book I needed. I needed to build a database that did not use any commercial package. This book saved my bacon. Read more
Published 23 months ago by bernie
5.0 out of 5 stars Work of a lifetime as a re-definition of perfectionism
"I thought that I was a perfectionist until I met Knuth." The previous sentence is from the renowned mathematician Fan Rong K Chung Graham and I think it also reflects the spirit... Read more
Published on April 12, 2011 by Emre Sevinc
5.0 out of 5 stars great service!
I ordered these books, and they came within 2 days (I didn't pay for special mailing or handling), and were in perfect condition even thought they were supposedly "used."
Published on August 19, 2010 by Douglas B. Jacobs
3.0 out of 5 stars Really wanted to enjoy this, but couldn't
I love reading technical books, in a wide variety of fields. I typically read technical books cover to cover, as if they were novels. Read more
Published on July 21, 2010 by Eric Pi
5.0 out of 5 stars Great classic
I am an undergraduate computer science student. I picked up the Art of Computer Programming due to the authors credibility in the computer science community. Read more
Published on January 3, 2010 by Andrew Ribeiro
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Computer Science Books ever read
These are the best books in Computer Science that I have ever read. They are selected by the American Scientist as one of the twelve physical-science monographs of the twentieth... Read more
Published on December 12, 2008 by Yuanchyuan Sheu
5.0 out of 5 stars Computer Science
The Art of Programming, by Donald Knuth, is a comprehensive, multi-volume work discussing various programming algorithms and their analysis. Read more
Published on September 26, 2008 by Carlos Jorge
Search Customer Reviews
Search these reviews only

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.

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

Sell a Digital Version of This Book in the Kindle Store

If you are a publisher or author and hold the digital rights to a book, you can sell a digital version of it in our Kindle Store. Learn more


There are no discussions about this product yet.
Be the first to discuss this product with the community.
Start a new discussion
First post:
Prompts for sign-in

Look for Similar Items by Category