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-   -   Write to Donald Knuth! (https://www.mersenneforum.org/showthread.php?t=12213)

cheesehead 2009-07-26 17:35

Write to Donald Knuth!
 
Those of us working with computer software and discrete mathematics owe a lot to Donald E. Knuth for his contributions to those areas, notably his monumental [I]The Art of Computer Programming[/I] and his TeX typesetting software.

Here's a suggestion:

[I]Write a note to him expressing what his work has meant to you!
[/I]
... and send it "snail mail", please, because that's how he'd prefer it.

From one of his pages ([URL="http://www-cs-faculty.stanford.edu/%7Eknuth/email.html%29:"]http://www-cs-faculty.stanford.edu/~knuth/email.html):[/URL]

[quote]So if you want to write to me about any topic, please use good ol' snail mail and send a letter to the following address:[INDENT] Prof. Donald E. Knuth
Computer Science Department
Gates Building 4B
Stanford University
Stanford, CA 94305-9045 USA.
[/INDENT]I have a wonderful secretary who looks at the incoming mail and separates out anything that she knows I've been looking forward to seeing urgently. Everything else goes into a buffer storage area, which I empty periodically.[/quote](So, if he replies, it might be a while, because he organizes his time in blocks for efficiency.)

joblack 2009-07-28 02:14

I suppose Donald Knuth has enough to do than read thousands of mails.

SPWorley 2009-07-28 03:41

[quote=joblack;183068]I suppose Donald Knuth has enough to do than read thousands of mails.[/quote]

He seemed quite happy to get some notes I sent him a few years back. Anyone mailing him went through some effort, so he's usually interested.

His astounding encyclopediac knowledge was proved yet again... I told him about a minor TAOCP correction on the speed of ENIAC.. that it did multiplications in milliseconds, not microseconds. His reply happily agreed. But the cool thing.. he then wrote me a paragraph on the technical details about ENIAC's opcode design and throughput.. with references from two papers, 40 and 50 years old. Which he had, in dead-tree format. Which don't even exist in a Google search.

SPWorley 2009-07-28 03:44

1 Attachment(s)
Too appropriate not to post...

Damian 2009-07-28 04:43

What if instead of sending thouthands of mails to him, everyone writes on this forum what would like to tell him, and then we send one only postal mail with everithing in it.
I doubt he would read it all if it's to large, but maybe he would like it anyway.
We could format it in latex and print it in pdf, like a collection of short-letters.

cheesehead 2009-07-28 05:31

[quote=joblack;183068]I suppose Donald Knuth has enough to do than read thousands of mails.[/quote]Where did the "thousands" exaggeration come from?

I suggested "a note".

I know the active members on this forum number considerably less than a thousand ("Active Members: 209"), and if even one-tenth of those read this thread and actually sent a note, that would be quite a statistical anomaly.

(Did you actually read my quote from the web page, where Knuth explains that he has a secretary who screens his mail?)

CRGreathouse 2009-07-28 05:43

For comparison:

On another forum I frequented there was a similar 'send a postcard to X' where X was sufficiently famous in the community. There were a total of about 6-7 postcards sent. And this community was much larger, probably 10 to 30 times the size of mersenneforums. So I'd be surprised if there were more than half a dozen letters sent to Knuth.

flouran 2009-07-28 16:20

[QUOTE=cheesehead;182835]Those of us working with computer software and discrete mathematics owe a lot to Donald E. Knuth for his contributions to those areas, notably his monumental [I]The Art of Computer Programming[/I] and his TeX typesetting software.
[/QUOTE]
Sure, I use LaTeX all the time, but I must admit, it can get annoying :smile:
[QUOTE=cheesehead;182835]
Here's a suggestion:

[I]Write a note to him expressing what his work has meant to you!
[/I]
... and send it "snail mail", please, because that's how he'd prefer it.
[/QUOTE]
I don't mean this out of disrespect, but I am sure he has more pertinent things to do than read "fan" mail. Most likely, he knows what kind of impact he has had on the community, and need not be reminded.

cheesehead 2009-07-28 19:38

[quote=flouran;183148]I don't mean this out of disrespect, but I am sure he has more pertinent things to do than read "fan" mail. Most likely, he knows what kind of impact he has had on the community, and need not be reminded.[/quote]See post #3.

flouran 2009-07-28 19:54

[QUOTE=cheesehead;183172]See post #3.[/QUOTE]

Yes, the poster of #3 told Knuth about a minor error in his work. That is perfectly alright. But that's certainly different from what you proposed, which was to only praise him. Knuth most likely knows he has contributed a lot to respective academic communities, and as I said before, he need not be reminded of it.

cheesehead 2009-07-28 20:00

[quote=flouran;183173]But that's certainly different from what you proposed, which was to only praise him.[/quote]It was "[I]expressing what his work has meant to you".[/I]

[quote]Knuth most likely knows he has contributed a lot to respective academic communities, and as I said before, he need not be reminded of it.[/quote]But AFAIK Knuth doesn't suffer from the sort of emotional impairment that seems to afflict some of our participants.


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