The book begins with fundamental questions regarding random numbers and how to use algorithms to generate them. Subsequent chapters demonstrate efficient computation of single-precision and double-precision arithmetic calculations and modular arithmetic. The text then presents prime factorization (which can be used in cryptography, for instance) and algorithms for calculating fractions. This volume ends with algorithms for polynomial arithmetic and manipulation of power-series topics, which will benefit those with some knowledge of calculus.
Throughout this beautifully presented edition, Knuth incorporates hundreds of useful exercises for trying out the algorithms. These range from simple problems to larger research project topics. (The book provides answers, where appropriate, at the end of the book.) The result is a text that's suitable for college or graduate-level computer science courses or individual study by programmers. Volume 2 is an indispensable part of any working programmer's library.
From the Back Cover
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
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.
If you think you're a really good programmer... read [Knuth's] Art of Computer Programming... You should definitely send me a resume if you can read the whole thing.
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.
The second volume offers a complete introduction to the field of seminumerical algorithms, with separate chapters on random numbers and arithmetic. The book summarizes the major paradigms and basic theory of such algorithms, thereby providing a comprehensive interface between computer programming and numerical analysis. Particularly noteworthy in this third edition is Knuth's new treatment of random number generators, and his discussion of calculations with formal power series.