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Physics, welding, astronomy and mathematics


Taking graduate classes at Case
Donald Knuth Scientist
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At Case I put a lot of time into… into stuff out of class, but in class I found a... a really clever way to – now, let me brag this way to… to say – to… to avoid having to study too hard for my… for my classes. In the first place, I noticed though, that when I was a sophomore, I… my grades started to go down in the first part of my sophomore year. And I ascribed it to too much ping-pong playing and playing… and playing cards too much in the dorm, and so; no, I'm sorry; this was… this was the second half of my freshman year. I started having a little problem with my grades, and so I had to give up ping-pong. But… but starting… starting in my sophomore junior year, I found out that you could take graduate courses at Case, and they were easier than the undergraduate courses. The reason is that Case had really strict admissions requirements for… for undergrads, but… but they were… they were fairly loose about admitting graduate students. I think they wanted to build up, you know, admit graduate students, so… so when you had graduate students, in a class… in a class, they usually didn't know as much as the undergrads did, so if you… if you would take a graduate course, you didn't have as much competition, you know, and… and the teacher would… would recycle stuff, and all this. So I started taking graduate classes, and you know, and all these hotshot undergrads would be… would be taking the other classes. And… and as a result, I had accumulated also, by the time I was a senior, I had accumulated lots and lots of graduate credits. Now, as a result then, Case did, on Graduation Day, Case did an unprecedented thing that had never been done before, they awarded me a Master's Degree, simultaneously with my Bachelor's Degree. And this, the Faculty had gotten together and made a… and voted unanimously that this… that this should… should happen.  And I remember, you know, that was another thing that got into the newspapers at the time, that they… that they were awarding a Master's Degree at the same time as a Bachelor's Degree. So, but the reason was that I had taken these graduate courses because they were easier. I didn't… I don't know if I've ever told anybody else this before today, but that… but that was one of the reasons I could do so many… so many other things.

Born in 1938, American computing pioneer Donald Knuth is known for his greatly influential multi-volume work, 'The Art of Computer Programming', his novel 'Surreal Numbers', his invention of TeX and METAFONT electronic publishing tools and his quirky sense of humor.

Listeners: Dikran Karagueuzian

Trained as a journalist, Dikran Karagueuzian is the director of CSLI Publications, publisher of seven books by Donald Knuth. He has known Knuth since the late seventies when Knuth was developing TeX and Metafont, the typesetting and type designing computer programs, respectively.

Tags: Case Institute of Technology

Duration: 2 minutes, 59 seconds

Date story recorded: April 2006

Date story went live: 24 January 2008