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Knuth Releases Part Of Volume 4

michael posted more than 12 years ago | from the tortoise-and-hare dept.

Programming 31

Grendel Drago writes: "Donald E. Knuth has released "Pre-Fascicle 2b: Generating all permutations" from TAOCP Volume 4. It will be section 7.2.1.2 of the final work. Oh, and Volume 4 may now fill *four* subvolumes. Send in bugs, get checks for $2.56, tell the grandkids."

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31 comments

This belongs on the front page (4, Insightful)

Snowfox (34467) | more than 12 years ago | (#2813519)

This belongs on the front page if ever a programming article did.

Any programmer worth his salt has at least thumbed through the Knuth books. The set is one of half a dozen things I'd want to see on every programmer's bookshelf, and possibly even at the top of that list.

Knuth's getting on in years. Let's all pray/hope/whatever that he makes it through the remaining volumes. If not, it'll be a major loss.

Re:This belongs on the front page (2)

PD (9577) | more than 12 years ago | (#2813672)

I actually don't have these books on my bookshelf right now, but at various times in the past the copies from the library have been there. Does that count? :-)

I have to second the statement that these are the BEST computer science books available. They were written a long time ago and it is a bit humbling to realize that nearly all of the programming algorithms we use now were figured out by that time. These books are written in an entertaining manner, and they have clear explanations of everything. They are not beginner's books and they don't shy away from the math. I suspect that 100 years from now people will still be reading these books in the same way that English majors still read Shakespeare.

Re:This belongs on the front page (1)

mschaef (31494) | more than 12 years ago | (#2816586)

Amen. 'Name the damn [sic] SQL dolphin' gets a front page spot and ~350 comments while Knuth languishes in the back with what, twelve? I haven't questioned slashdot through all the reposts and poorly researched posts, but this is getting ridiculous. If this keeps up, slashdot will become the 'Entertainment Tonight' of the tech community.

-Mike

Re:This belongs on the front page (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 12 years ago | (#2819076)

Your targeting is excellent. /. articles boil down to:
a) MS sucks
b) See me new gadget
c) oh, yeah: technical stuff
What can be done to stem the tide of crapflooding?

Well... (2)

Da VinMan (7669) | more than 12 years ago | (#2824732)

In another posting [slashdot.org] in another discussion, I suggested that top-level articles be subject to moderation, with all the gimmicks that apply.

I was mod'ded up twice, then mod'ded down twice.

Net result: No one will see the idea.

:+{

Re:This belongs on the front page (2)

Grendel Drago (41496) | more than 12 years ago | (#2816972)

Yeah!

*looks around sheepishly*

At least I can tell my grandkids I got a story on Slashdot, too. Even if it wasn't on the front page...

-grendel drago

Re:This belongs on the front page (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2817652)

That's OK. I've gotten a first post, a story posted on slashdot, a 50 karma, a good goatse.cx troll, and quite a lot more. My life on slashdot is complete. ;)

Excellent. (-1)

jeneag (441998) | more than 12 years ago | (#2813562)

I've been waiting for this! Great news! It's a must-have set for any serious programmer/computer scientist. Althought I doubt that I'd find it on the shelf of a VB "programmer".

Oh please... (2)

Da VinMan (7669) | more than 12 years ago | (#2824701)

Stop taking shots at the proto-typical "VB programmer". For starters, we have feelings too. Secondly, most of us who use VB and other dumbed-down tools at work do so for two reasons:

1. Our employer requires it.
2. It lets us get things done very quickly.

But I suppose you think everything should be written in C right? Where's my freedom of choice in that?!

Re:Oh please... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2824815)

Well, all the examples in TAOCP are in MIX which is an assembly language for a non-existant architecture. The new editions are going to use MMIX, which is a more RISCy variant. The older MIX required some nasty things that make modern assembler programmers wince.

When these books were written, most programmers handn't heard of C.

To respond to you point, no, most people do not think everything should be written in C. They think that BASIC is the worst language ever designed, and should be taken out and shot as soon as possible. Your choice is clear: write in ANY of the millions of languages that are not BASIC or BASIC derived.

Re:Oh please... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2831162)

When these books were first written, C and Unix were not yet invented.

And to be constructive, if you want to migrate away from Basic, take a look at Python... Runs well on Win32 (plays nice with COM objects), comfortable syntax, nice OO and functional features, etc. etc. And free. But the O'Reilly python books are pretty bad, so you might want look elsewhere for your dead trees. (python.org) Of course if you need a more well known alternative and c-derived syntax doesn't bug you, there's always Java.

Re:Oh please... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2835608)

Hey amazingly the new VB.NET is a real language, so there's hope for you guys after all ;-)

Send in bugs get checks for $2.56 and $5.12 ... (2)

mlinksva (1755) | more than 12 years ago | (#2813611)

Note plural. No?

Re:Send in bugs get checks for $2.56 and $5.12 ... (2)

pthisis (27352) | more than 12 years ago | (#2817430)

Nope. It's $2.56 a check.

He stopped doubling it years ago.

Bug Payouts (2)

Grendel Drago (41496) | more than 12 years ago | (#2817645)

You're thinking of bugs in TeX and METAFONT. Those are currently worth $327.68 apiece, and (I think) will continue to occasionally double so long as Knuth is alive. (Beyond that, any bug is classified as a feature.) Bugs in the books have always been worth $2.56.

-grendel drago

Tell your grandkids and they'll lock you up (1)

stefanlasiewski (63134) | more than 12 years ago | (#2813703)

"Donald E. Knuth has released "Pre-Fascicle 2b: Generating all permutations" from TAOCP Volume 4. It will be section 7.2.1.2 of the final work. Oh, and Volume 4 may now fill *four* subvolumes. Send in bugs, get checks for $2.56, tell the grandkids."

Michael, if I said this to my grandkids they would throw me in the insane asylum for spewing gibberish.

That sentance makes *zero* sense to neophytes, and I doubt it makes sense to experienced *phytes in the industry you are talking about (What industry are you talking about? Programming? Cryptology? DNA sequencing?).

Who is Donald Knuth anyways? Wasn't he the head Animator behind the "Secrets of Nimh" cartoon & the "Dragon's Lair" & "Space Quest" video games?

Re:Tell your grandkids and they'll lock you up (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2814099)

(What industry are you talking about? Programming? Cryptology? DNA sequencing?).
Damn that confusing "programming" topic icon!

Anyway, any professional programmer who can't identify Knuth (because of TAOCP or TeX), or at the least hasn't heard anecdotes of Knuth's infamous $2.56 reward for finding bugs in TeX and mistakes in his textbooks, ought to be shot.

Re:Tell your grandkids and they'll lock you up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2814241)

Yes, that must explain the overwhelming response to this topic!

7 responses in 1.5 hours? There were more reposnses posted post New Years Eve! That has gotta be a record!

Re:Tell your grandkids and they'll lock you up (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2816032)

So, the truth comes out. Slashdot is NOT a programmer's site, it's a site for sysadmins who wannabe programmers - as long as they don't have to know any math to get there.

No, really! :+) (2)

Da VinMan (7669) | more than 12 years ago | (#2824674)

Duh! Let's face it, most of the folks here aren't even sysadmins, they're wannabe sysadmins. Installing a Linux distro at home on a x86 and even networking your house with it doesn't make you a real (good) sysadmin. It's a great learning experience, but that's about it.

As far as the math goes, most programmers I've met aren't real strong in math. But then, most of the programmers I know do (and most of the programming I do) straight-up business applications. If there's any math in there, it usually gets handed to you by an accountant/actuary/whomever with about a ream of documentation. That's just the reality of it for math skills. It's much more important that I be able to manage very complex systems and keep my soft skills strong. Those I use every day.

Not On The Main Page (2)

Grendel Drago (41496) | more than 12 years ago | (#2817672)

It's not on the main page. The casual reader doesn't see it. I didn't even know it had been accepted until I looked at my user-info page.

-grendel drago

Re:Tell your grandkids and they'll lock you up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2814255)

Fuck! I thought it was a puzzle icon!

But the other stories under the puzzle icon are understandable, why not this one?

You open source geeks sometimes forget, not everyone who reads slashdot is a programmer. You forget this fact when writing projects like 'Gnome' .

Re:Tell your grandkids and they'll lock you up (2, Funny)

renehollan (138013) | more than 12 years ago | (#2814319)

Shot?

Try: shot, hanged, boiled in oil, disemboweled, drawn and quartered, fed to sharks, and then tried for heresy.

Clarification... (4, Informative)

Grendel Drago (41496) | more than 12 years ago | (#2817048)

*sheepishly*

Dude, I'm going to have to take the blame for that one. You'll notice that that text was italicized, and hence came from my submission.

Send in bugs, get checks for $2.56, tell the grandkids.

Let's expand this a bit. Don Knuth sends $2.56 (a ``hexadecimal dollar'') for each bug so found. This money is sent in check form. No one in their right mind would actually cash them, especially since Knuth is getting on in years. (Note that he's just celebrated his millionth birthday---in base 2, of course.) I have two checks from Knuth (though for ``useful suggestions'', worth but thirty-two cents apiece), and they are possibly my most prized possessions.

And that's ``Don Bluth''. Not ``Don Knuth''. Though they're both rather devout men, that's where the similarities end, unless Don Bluth plays the organ...

-grendel drago

Re:Clarification... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2817196)

And like a typical ./ troll I blamed Michael. Sorry for my bad additude. Thanks for clarifying.

from the inside flap... (2, Interesting)

krs-one (470715) | more than 12 years ago | (#2813928)

"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." -- Bill Gates :)

From amazon [amazon.com].

TAOCP has got to be one of the greatest examples of a genius mind at work. Knuth's work should be placed in the same echelon as Shakespear, Chaucer, and Hemingway.

-Vic

More interesting... (3, Interesting)

Satai (111172) | more than 12 years ago | (#2814468)

I found the news just above the 2b announcement to be a bit more interesting.

Evidently the random number generator ran_array / RNARRAY from Volume 2 had some problems. As I read it, if one seed is used many times, it would produce numbers that passed randomness tests; but one user tried many different seeds for only a few generations - which began to fail randomness tests.

The remarkable thing Knuth noted was that two different methods of fixing it were found by Richard Brent. The first was to discard the first 2000 numbers; the other was just basic improvement of the initialization of the algorithm.

I'm very curious as to why this is; my understanding of seminumerical theory is limited to what I've read in Knuth, but I'm still very interested in the causes of this problem.

That's GNUth, please (1)

alacqua (535697) | more than 12 years ago | (#2818356)

Richard M. Stallman has requested that this post be renamed "GNUth Releases Part of Volume 4" and that the book be referred to as "GNUth's 'The Art of Computer Programming'". Says RMS, "Clearly this system of many eyes viewing the pre-releases to remove bugs reflects a major benefit of open source. To say anything but 'GNUth' would be to ignore this fact."

Funny! (2)

Grendel Drago (41496) | more than 12 years ago | (#2819517)

Damn, that's good. Except it'd be pronounced "ga-NOOTH".

*snapplause*[*].

-grendel drago
[*] ``Snapplause'' is the sound of scads of people snapping their fingers in approval, Beatnik-style.

can you say == open source the books for all (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2824859)

to use and enjoy?
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