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My graduate students and my 64th birthday


Taking up swimming to help me cope with stress
Donald Knuth Scientist
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I felt very stressed about... about this time and I was... and I was having all kinds of... of symptoms of... of flaky health and didn't know what was on and I think it was because of the anxiety of this big change in my life since I'm going from one... from one phase to another. And so I even talked to a psychiatrist a couple of times at my doctor's recommendation because the doctor, you know, thought I was having too many symptoms. And... and the psychiatrist said well, you get so many stress points for this and so many stress points for this and you've got way enough... you know, was too many stress points so why don't you... why don't you try swimming regularly? And... and... I... I had never really done much exercise up to that point, I... I was always sitting and... sitting and writing or... you know, in Boston I could do a lot of walking because we didn't have a car there but... but most of the time, you know, I... I never understood why... why physical education was a required subject in college, I just, you know, I was the score-keeper but I didn't really, you know, I didn't really ever play basketball myself. But it was a required subject so I had to do some of these callisthenics or whatever. Well now I could see that really the way the human body is designed it's... it's okay to have your heart moving a little bit every once in a while and I started swimming three or four times a week in... in 1990 and... and all of a sudden my back was feeling good, I was feeling good, other problems were clearing up and... and, well... I was also discouraged though that Stanford hadn't found a replacement for me and the... and they still haven't. I mean they just... they did some searches but the... the professors they identified decided to stay where they... where they were and so... and so really that part of the bargain Stanford never... never lived up to.

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: Boston, Stanford University

Duration: 2 minutes, 17 seconds

Date story recorded: April 2006

Date story went live: 24 January 2008