The Art of Computer Programming

The Art of Computer Programming

"The Art of Computer Programming" [ [ The Art of Computer Programming ] ] is a comprehensive monograph written by Donald Knuth that covers many kinds of programming algorithms and their analysis. Knuth began the project, which was originally planned to be one book, in 1962. The first three volumes were published in rapid succession, starting with volume 1 in 1968, volume 2 in 1969, and volume 3 in 1973. The first installment of Volume 4 was published in February 2005. Additional installments are planned approximately twice per year with a break before fascicle 5 to finish the "Selected Papers" series.


Considered an expert at writing compilers, Knuth started to write a book about compiler design in 1962. He soon realized that the scope of the book needed to be much larger. In June 1965, Knuth finished the first draft of what was originally planned to be a single volume of twelve chapters. This hand-written manuscript was 3,000 pages long. Knuth had assumed that about five hand-written pages would translate into one printed page. The publisher said that it was actually about 1½ hand-written pages to one printed page: thus the book would be 2,000 pages in length. The plan of the book was changed to have seven volumes, each with one or two chapters. Due to the growth in the material, the plan for Volume 4 has since expanded to include Volumes 4A, 4B, 4C, and possibly 4D. Volume 4A is likely to split further, since 7.1 and 7.2.1 together are already over 650 pages.

In 1976, Knuth prepared a second edition of Volume 2, requiring it to be typeset again. But the style of type (called hot type) used in the first edition was no longer available. So, in 1977, he decided to spend a few months working up something more suitable. Eight years later, he returned with TeX, which is currently used for all volumes.

The famous offer of a reward check worth "one hexadecimal dollar" (0x100 Base 16 cents, in decimal, is $2.56) for any errors found, and the correction of these errors in subsequent printings, has contributed to the highly polished and continued authoritative nature of the work, long after its first publication. Another characteristic of the volumes is the variation in the difficulty of the exercises. The level of difficulty ranges from "warm-up" exercises to unsolved research problems, giving any reader a challenge. Knuth's dedication is also famous: cquote|This series of books is affectionately dedicated
to the Type 650 computer once installed at
Case Institute of Technology,
with whom I have spent many pleasant evenings.

Assembly language in the book

All examples in the books use a language called "MIX assembly language", which runs on the hypothetical MIX computer. (Currently, the MIX computer is being replaced by the MMIX computer, which is a RISC version.) Software such as GNU MDK exists to provide emulation of the MIX architecture.

Some readers are put off by the use of assembly language, but Knuth considers this necessary because algorithms need a context to judge speed and memory usage. It does, however, limit the accessibility of the book to many readers, and limits its usefulness as a "cookbook" for practicing programmers, many of whom are not familiar with assembly, and even if they are, have no particular desire to translate assembly code into a high-level language. A number of more accessible algorithms textbooks using high-level language examples exist and are popular for precisely these reasons.

Critical response

"American Scientist" has included this work among the best twelve physical-science monographs of the twentieth century, [citation |first= Philip |last=Morrison |first2=Phylis |last2=Morrison |url=|title=100 or so Books that shaped a Century of Science |volume=87 |issue=6 |journal=American Scientist |year=1999 |month=November-December |publisher=Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society |accessdate=2008-01-11 ] and within the computer science community it is regarded as the first and still the best comprehensive treatment of its subject. Covers of the third edition of Volume 1 quote Bill Gates as saying, "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." (According to folklore, Steve Jobs made this claim. [cite web |url= |title=Close Encounters of the Steve Kind |first=Tom |last=Zito |accessdate=2008-01-11 | ] )

Chapter outline

*Volume 1 - Fundamental Algorithms
**Chapter 1 - Basic concepts
**Chapter 2 - Information structures
*Volume 2 - Seminumerical Algorithms
**Chapter 3 - Random numbers
**Chapter 4 - Arithmetic
*Volume 3 - Sorting and Searching
**Chapter 5 - Sorting
**Chapter 6 - Searching
*Volume 4 - Combinatorial Algorithms, in preparation (four fascicles have been published as of May 2008, and alpha-test versions of additional fascicles are downloadable from Knuth's page below).
**Volume 4A - Enumeration and Backtracking
***Chapter 7 - Combinatorial searching
**Volume 4B - Graph and Network Algorithms
***Chapter 7 "continued"
**Volume 4C and possibly 4D - Optimization and Recursion
***Chapter 7 "continued"
***Chapter 8 - Recursion
*Volume 5 - Syntactic Algorithms, planned (as of August 2006, "estimated" in 2015).
**Chapter 9 - Lexical scanning
**Chapter 10 - Parsing techniques
*Volume 6 - Theory of Context-Free Languages, planned.
*Volume 7 - Compiler Techniques, planned.

Outline of Volume 4A Enumeration and Backtracking

*7 - Introduction (82pp) - published in Volume 4, Fascicle 0
**7.1 - Zeros and ones
***7.1.1 - Boolean basics (88 pp) - published in Volume 4, Fascicle 0
***7.1.2 - Boolean evaluation (67 pp) - published in Volume 4, Fascicle 0
***7.1.3 - Bitwise tricks and techniques (122 pp) - published as Pre-Fascicle 1a.
***7.1.4 - Binary decision diagrams (150 pp) - published as Pre-Fascicle 1b.
**7.2 - Generating all possibilities
***7.2.1 - Combinatorial generators (397 pp)
**** - Generating all n-tuples - published in Volume 4, Fascicle 2
**** - Generating all permutations - published in Volume 4, Fascicle 2
**** - Generating all combinations - published in Volume 4, Fascicle 3
**** - Generating all partitions - published in Volume 4, Fascicle 3
**** - Generating all set partitions - published in Volume 4, Fascicle 3
**** - Generating all trees - published in Volume 4, Fascicle 4
**** - History and further references - published in Volume 4, Fascicle 4
***7.2.2 - Basic backtrack
***7.2.3 - Efficient backtracking
**7.3 - Shortest paths

Outline of Volume 4B Graph and Network Algorithms

**7.4 - Graph algorithms
***7.4.1 - Components and traversal
***7.4.2 - Special classes of graphs
***7.4.3 - Expander graphs
***7.4.4 - Random graphs
**7.5 - Network algorithms
***7.5.1 - Distinct representatives
***7.5.2 - The assignment problem
***7.5.3 - Network flows
***7.5.4 - Optimum subtrees
***7.5.5 - Optimum matching
***7.5.6 - Optimum orderings
**7.6 - Independence theory
***7.6.1 - Independence structures
***7.6.2 - Efficient matroid algorithms

Outline of Volumes 4C and 4D Optimization and Recursion

**7.7 - Discrete dynamic programming
**7.8 - Branch-and-bound techniques
**7.9 - Herculean tasks (aka NP-hard problems)
**7.10 - Near-optimization
*8 - Recursion

English editions

Current editions

In order by volume number:

*"Volume 1: Fundamental Algorithms". Third Edition (Reading, Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley, 1997), xx+650pp. ISBN 0-201-89683-4
*"Volume 1, Fascicle 1: MMIX -- A RISC Computer for the New Millennium". (Addison-Wesley, February 14, 2005) ISBN 0-201-85392-2 (will be in the fourth edition of volume 1)
*"Volume 2: Seminumerical Algorithms". Third Edition (Reading, Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley, 1997), xiv+762pp. ISBN 0-201-89684-2
*"Volume 3: Sorting and Searching". Second Edition (Reading, Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley, 1998), xiv+780pp.+foldout. ISBN 0-201-89685-0
*"Volume 4, Fascicle 0: Introduction to Combinatorial Algorithms and Boolean Functions", (Addison-Wesley Professional, April 28, 2008) vi+240pp, ISBN 0-321-53496-4
*"Volume 4, Fascicle 1: Bitwise tricks and techniques and Binary Decision Diagrams" (partial preview available, publication est: 2009)
*"Volume 4, Fascicle 2: Generating All Tuples and Permutations", (Addison-Wesley, February 14, 2005) v+127pp, ISBN 0-201-85393-0
*"Volume 4, Fascicle 3: Generating All Combinations and Partitions". (Addison-Wesley, July 26, 2005) vi+150pp, ISBN 0-201-85394-9
*"Volume 4, Fascicle 4: Generating all Trees -- History of Combinatorial Generation", (Addison-Wesley, February 6, 2006) vi+120pp, ISBN 0-321-33570-8

Previous editions

In order by publication date:
*"Volume 1", first edition, 1968. 634pp. ISBN 0-201-03801-3.
*"Volume 2", first edition, 1969, xi+624pp, ISBN 0-201-03802-1.
*"Volume 3", first edition, 1973, xi+723pp+centerfold, ISBN 0-201-03803-X
*"Volume 1", second edition, 1973, xiii+634pp, ISBN 0-201-03809-9.
*"Volume 2", second edition, 1981, xiii+ 688pp. ISBN 0-201-03822-6.



External links

* [ Overview of topics] (Knuth's personal homepage)
* [ "Robert W Floyd, In Memoriam", by Donald E. Knuth] -(on the influence of Bob Floyd)
* [ Injokes in the books]
* [ Who is Bill Gosper?] (on the influence of Bill Gosper on the 2nd Edition of Volume 2.)
* [ TAoCP and its Influence of Computer Science(Softpanorama)]

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