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Knuth's Fascicle 3b Available 38

Posted by timothy
from the brain-more-wrinkly-than-average dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Looks like Knuth is making progress on volume 4 of The Art of Computer Programming. Another fascicle is available. More news here."
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Knuth's Fascicle 3b Available

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  • by orthogonal (588627) on Saturday February 21, 2004 @04:38PM (#8351492) Journal
    And if reading the fascicle is too heavy going, remember that you can watch the movies instead, at http://scpd.stanford.edu/knuth/ [stanford.edu]. Fourteen videos of Knuth's lectures are aavailable, inclusing last years's "Tenth Annual Christmas Tree Lecture: Finding All Spanning Trees".

    I watched the Tenth Annual Christmas Tree lecture live (the "trees", of course, being various computer science graphs and structures, not pine trees hung with colored lights) and found it surprisingly engaging and accessible even to an educated lay-person. If you have any interest in computer science or algorithm design, it's a fascinating way to spend an hour. (Disclaimer: I'd just watched the 1998 lecture to better understand Garsia-Wachs coding.)

    I was so excited about watching it live that I submitted the Knuth Christmas lecture as a story about it to Slashdot, but the editors didn't think it important enough to accept. (Nor the story on "brain fingerprinting" [bbc.co.uk] -- a kind of polygraph based on direct reading of brain waves -- casting doubt on a death sentence, nor Eagle's drummer Don Henley's op-ed piece in the Washington Post [washingtonpost.com] attacking the music industry and ruminating on p2p, nor the story about Anglo-German scientific rivalry and the resulting pickled baby "dragon" [smh.com.au].)
  • by jeffy124 (453342) on Saturday February 21, 2004 @05:08PM (#8351680) Homepage Journal
    general question:
    His publication schedule appears to be 2007 for Volume 4, 2010 for Volume 5, plus other work following that. I'm a little concerned about his age. I dont know how old he is, but he is retired and seems to have been for quite some time. Will he live long enough to actually finish Vol 5?
    • by kurosawdust (654754) on Saturday February 21, 2004 @05:32PM (#8351828)
      Knuth was born in 1938, making him 65-66 years old, 72-73 when the planned release of Volume 5 comes around. It's going to be a tight squeeze no doubt, but it's not impossible; Knuth could pull a Chomsky and keep on writing books into his eighties.
    • by __past__ (542467) on Saturday February 21, 2004 @05:50PM (#8351952)
      Remember that he is already some years (decades?) past his original schedule.

      TAOCP will not be finished. Period. Knuth is too much of a genius, and a perfectionist, to actually manage to complete it in his lifetime. It will end up like Karl Marx' Kapital (which was planned to have 6 volumes, and he died early in preparing the third - which some people argue was only the third part of volume 1), with few people actually understanding all of it, and heated debates of what things might mean in the light of the never-written later parts.

      With the exception that fewer people will die because of such controversies in Knuth' case, because there aren't too many militant guerilla groups fighting for the right way to do seminumerical algorithms.

      • by orthogonal (588627) on Saturday February 21, 2004 @06:46PM (#8352343) Journal
        With the exception that fewer people will die because of such controversies in Knuth' case, because there aren't too many militant guerilla groups fighting for the right way to do seminumerical algorithms.

        That's the problem with kids today: no priorities, no gumption!
      • With the exception that fewer people will die because of such controversies in Knuth' case, because there aren't too many militant guerilla groups fighting for the right way to do seminumerical algorithms.

        All of a sudden I'm feeling rather inspired... does anyone want to start one with me?
      • by WillAdams (45638) on Saturday February 21, 2004 @08:37PM (#8353001) Homepage
        Probably that's supposed to be funny, but for those who don't understand the context of the joke, Dr. Knuth is running behind (didn't I just write this up recently?) because

        1 - the work itself is huge (when first asked to write it he delivered some six or seven _hundred_ pages of manuscript as the first _chapter_, causing his editor to ask, ``Don, just how long is this book going to be?''

        2 - publishing switched from hot metal type set by a combination of casting machines and hand-work for mathematics typography to phototypesetters and after digital typesetters. Because of the limitations of the early typesetting systems, Dr. Knuth saw it as his obligation to set aside everything else and write a publishing / typesetting system for mathematics --- he thought it would be done over his sabbatical of that year, some decades later he announced TeX complete and frozen at version 3 (w/ a version number tending toward pi and a several hundred dollar reward for finding a bug).

        Lest you think TeX is irrelevant in these graphical days, TeXinfo is the basis for the GNU documentation format, an awful lot of XML gets typeset programmatically by TeX (look up xmltex for one example), Adobe uses TeX's H&J as the basis for the ``multi-line composer'' in their InDesign page layout application (by way of URW's HZ), and there're wonderful new formats such as ConTeXt and documentclasses such as KomaScript and Memoir _and_ w/ the new edition of _The LaTeX Companion_ soon to be published, work on LaTeX3 should accelerate.

        William
      • With the exception that fewer people will die because of such controversies in Knuth' case, because there aren't too many militant guerilla groups fighting for the right way to do seminumerical algorithms.

        To help Knuth finishing "The Art of .." the guerilla's goal should be to legalize research into stem cells!

        Then Knuth could take a decade off and do something like TeX again. :-)

        (And lots of other people like me will have time to read it again...)

    • by Animats (122034) on Saturday February 21, 2004 @06:36PM (#8352283) Homepage
      In 1968, one could order the entire set for under $100, to be delivered as they were written.

      I wonder how many people are still waiting.

      • I bought a volume of TAOCP about 15 years ago that included a postcard for being notified when Volume 4 was published, which was supposed to be in the near future.
  • Large .ps.gz! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by holygoat (564732) on Saturday February 21, 2004 @06:43PM (#8352329)
    Stanford are going to hate us - direct linking to a 600K PostScript in the article.

    Don't click on it unless you actually plan on taking the time to READ it!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 21, 2004 @09:33PM (#8353281)
    I forgot to mention that when I submitted the article.
    It also seems that pre-fascicle 2c has been renamed to pre-fascicle 3a.
    Seeing that pre-fascicles 2a and 2b total 138 pages and that 3a and 3b total 156 pages, perhaps the "real" fascicles 2 and 3 will shortly arrive (unless fascicle 1 has to be completed first).

    By the way, I'd start looking for errors in pre-fascicle 3c, the $2.56 reward applies to pre-fascicles as well. (I got a check from Knuth for one in one of the previous ones -- quite an amazing thing to get one of those famous checks!)
  • For many years, I wondered which volume 4 would come out first, George Lucas' or Knuth's. I'd much rather have had them the other way around!

FORTRAN is a good example of a language which is easier to parse using ad hoc techniques. -- D. Gries [What's good about it? Ed.]

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