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Family history
Donald Knuth Scientist
Next Views Duration
1. Family history 23073 02:52
2. Learning to read and school 5796 07:16
3. My mother 3089 02:42
4. My parents' finances 2984 06:28
5. Interests in high school 3593 03:27
6. Being a nerd of nerds at high school 2644 04:23
7. My sense of humor 4735 01:53
8. The Potrzebie System of Weights and Measures 3726 03:56
9. Feeling the need to prove myself 8218 07:41
10. Why I chose to go to Case Institute of Technology 2800 03:16
11. University life: my basketball management system 2012 08:09
12. University life: the fraternity system 1648 03:36
13. Meeting my wife Jill 3458 04:28
14. Bible study at university and a time of personal challenge 2471 03:42
15. Extra-curricular activities at Case 1188 05:20
16. Taking graduate classes at Case 1285 02:58
17. Physics, welding, astronomy and mathematics 1760 04:42
18. My maths teacher at Case and a difficult problem 3269 06:16
19. My interest in graphs and my first experience of a computer 3635 05:13
20. How I got interested in programming 2240 03:41
21. Learning how to program on the IBM 650 1599 04:20
22. Writing a tic-tac-toe program 2030 05:12
23. Learning about Symbolic Optimum Assembly programs 1391 05:36
24. The Internal Translator 1351 06:26
25. Adding more features to RUNCIBLE 1048 03:48
26. Wanting to be a teacher and why I chose to go to Caltech 1451 04:31
27. Writing a compiler for the Burroughs Corporation 1785 05:00
28. Working for the Burroughs Corporation 1164 05:26
29. Burroughs Corporation 1101 01:51
30. My interest in context-free languages 1682 03:23
31. Getting my PhD and the problem of symmetric block designs with lambda equals two 1434 04:14
32. Finding a solution to an open problem about projective planes 1341 05:40
33. Inception of The Art of Computer Programming 1772 07:07
34. 1967: a turbulent year 1537 04:34
35. Work on attribute grammars and the Knuth-Bendix Algorithm 1388 03:54
36. Being creative in the forest 1213 06:04
37. A new field: analysis of algorithms 1224 05:43
38. The Art of Computer Programming: underestimating the size of the book 1638 05:45
39. The successful first release of The Art of Computer Programming 1341 05:08
40. Inspiration to write Surreal Numbers 1295 03:56
41. Writing Surreal Numbers in a hotel room in Oslo 960 05:26
42. Finishing the Surreal Numbers 869 06:30
43. The emergence of computer science as an academic subject 1114 06:44
44. I want to do computer science instead of arguing for it 909 07:58
45. A year doing National Service in Princeton 843 05:54
46. Moving to Stanford and wondering whether I'd made the right choice 1108 02:38
47. Designing the house in Stanford 1174 07:21
48. Volume Three of The Art of Computer Programming 1009 03:25
49. Working on Volume Four of The Art of Computer Programming 909 02:24
50. Poor quality typesetting on the second edition of my book 1583 05:49
51. Deciding to make my own typesetting program 2006 02:15
52. Working on my typesetting program 1694 02:47
53. Mathematical formula for letter shapes 1403 05:41
54. Research into the history of typography 1364 01:36
55. Working on my letters and problems with the S 1733 04:41
56. Figuring out how to typeset and the problem with specifications 1261 06:15
57. Working on TeX 1519 02:36
58. Why the designer and the implementer of a program should be the same person 1632 01:17
59. Converting Volume Two to TeX 1196 03:23
60. Writing a users' manual for TeX 1180 02:57
61. Giving the Gibbs lecture on my typography work 1084 02:34
62. Developing Metafont and TeX 1208 05:53
63. Why I chose not to retain any rights to TeX and transcribed it to Pascal 1218 03:59
64. Tuning up my fonts and getting funding for TeX 960 06:51
65. Problems with Volume Two 934 03:37
66. Literate programming 1378 04:05
67. Re-writing TeX using the feedback I received 980 04:18
68. The importance of stability for TeX 1001 03:12
69. LaTeX and ConTeXt 2468 01:57
70. A summary of the TeX project 1268 03:53
71. A year in Boston 802 03:34
72. Writing a book about the Bible: 3:16 1363 05:13
73. The most beautiful 3:16 in the world 957 04:23
74. Chess master playing at Adobe Systems 872 05:22
75. Giving a lecture series on science and religion at MIT 1458 06:51
76. Back to work at Stanford and taking early retirement 913 07:19
77. Taking up swimming to help me cope with stress 1172 02:16
78. My graduate students and my 64th birthday 947 03:53
79. My class on Concrete Mathematics 1738 03:12
80. Writing a book on my Concrete Mathematics class 1182 06:41
81. Updating Volumes One to Three of The Art of Computer Programming 837 06:15
82. Getting started on Volume Four of The Art of Computer Programming 935 04:50
83. Two final major research projects 1040 03:55
84. My love of writing and a lucky life 973 04:22
85. Coping with cancer 1724 07:40
86. Honorary doctorates 695 02:29
87. The importance of awards and the Kyoto Prize 764 05:49
88. Pipe organ music is one of the great pleasures of life 1056 04:52
89. The pipe organ in my living room 754 05:10
90. Playing the organs 664 03:25
91. An international symposium on algorithms in the Soviet Union 978 05:42
92. The Knuth-Morris-Pratt algorithm 2615 05:27
93. My advice to young people 9508 04:41
94. My children: John 1426 05:49
95. My children: Jenny 1253 04:32
96. Working on a series of books of my collected papers 680 05:53
97. Why I chose analysis of algorithms as a subject 1732 02:46

If you want to go way back, if you go… like 16 of my great-great-grandparents… in 1840 they all would have been in Germany, but by 1870 they all were in America. So if, you know… consider all the different lines. My mother… my father's… the Knuth part of my ancestry was the most diverse, in a way. He came from Schleswig-Holstein, rather near the border with Denmark, and… and he was the last to come over.  He… during the Schleswig-Holstein crisis in 1860s – I think it was 1864, probably – he went AWOL from the army; didn't want to fight against the Prussians, and he decided to come to America, and knocked on the window one night, and told his parents, ‘I'm out of here’, and… and wound up in Illinois.  And then worked… learned… learned to be a blacksmith at that… at that time. So… so then his wife… and… was somebody he met in America. She had come… her family had come over earlier from the… from the Hannover area, and… and she lived in Indiana, all… all very near Chicago area.  And… and so the… that part of the family is… is from a different part of Germany.

My mother's side came… they all emigrated in 1840s, and they were farmers in the area of what is now Niedersachsen – it's a small town in Germany called Bad Essen – and they… her family came and were farmers in Ohio, near Cleveland, Ohio. So… so they… yeah, the background then is, my father's side round Chicago, where he… where he was born and grew up, and my mother's side from Cleveland, Ohio, where… where she was born. My dad's first teaching assignment was in Cleveland, and that's where he met my mom. Then he… then he got a call to Milwaukee, which was way far from any of their, you know, anybody else in the family, because it was a job that opened up, and so he went and… and took this… this job at a school that needed a teacher.

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: Germany, America, Schleswig-Holstein, Denmark, Prussians, Illinois, Hannover, Indiana, Chicago, Niedersachsen, Bad Essen, Ohio, Cleveland, Milwaukee

Duration: 2 minutes, 53 seconds

Date story recorded: April 2006

Date story went live: 24 January 2008

Comments (1) Please sign in or register to add comments
Jay Perkins
Thursday, 08 September 2016 04:45 AM
I just spent three hours on this series. Amazing. Thanks for not having a a lot of questions from an...
I just spent three hours on this series. Amazing. Thanks for not having a a lot of questions from an interviewer. This was a masterfully produced autobiography. So much more than a book would be. No words. Thanks.