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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.

flouran 2009-07-28 20:20

[QUOTE=cheesehead;183174]It was "[I]expressing what his work has meant to you".[/I]
[/QUOTE]
Which most likely involves praising him. I doubt many/any people will write to Knuth, "F*** you, Donald. You've done jackshit for our community". Or something derogatory (perhaps not as extreme as that).
[QUOTE=cheesehead;183174]
But AFAIK Knuth doesn't suffer from the sort of emotional impairment that seems to afflict some of our participants.[/QUOTE]
I wouldn't consider it emotional impairment. He's done a lot of work, and I bet he knows that he has contributed immensely.
Besides, cheesehead, there is no need to attempt to insult me. Apparently, you didn't read the "I don't mean this out of disrespect" statement in my post.

But hey, I myself would love to Donald Knuth too, but only if I found a mistake in some of his works or I wanted some advice on something. And sure, maybe in my message I would include what his work meant to me.

cheesehead 2009-07-28 21:03

[quote=flouran;183177]Besides, cheesehead, there is no need to attempt to insult me.[/quote]Of course not. That's why [I]I didn't attempt to insult you[/I].

I haven't seen any evidence that you're one of the emotionally-impaired participants in this forum, if that's what you think I was implying. My intended point (obviously badly-expressed!!) was that (in my opinion) Knuth would be pleased to receive notes such as I suggested.

I'm certainly regretting starting this thread, which I meant only as a nice suggestion.

flouran 2009-07-28 23:28

[QUOTE=cheesehead;183185]
I'm certainly regretting starting this thread, which I meant only as a nice suggestion.[/QUOTE]
The idea of writing to Donald Knuth is not bad at all. It's just that as a community, we should write something more useful than just telling him what his work means to us.
If you don't mind me saying, I think the objective of this thread should be shifted to: what should we write to Knuth about something he would find interesting (other than simply praising him. We can praise him in our letter(s), but that shouldn't be the main and/or only subject of our letter(s)).

ET_ 2009-07-29 09:26

We could define one letter, and insert our feelings/findings/questions in line. And finally put our names at the end of the message.

I noticed he used some research I did under the plume name of "Giulio Cesare", with some friends, in the field of alphametics, and is going to publish it on his fifth volume. It would be great to thank him.

Not to mention the fact that I learnt a lot about number theory from pointers and links to his works found in the Mersenneforum. I'm sure he would enjoy knowing about our use of his ideas.

Luigi

flouran 2009-07-29 13:53

[quote=ET_;183252]We could define one letter, and insert our feelings/findings/questions in line. And finally put our names at the end of the message.

I noticed he used some research I did under the plume name of "Giulio Cesare", with some friends, in the field of alphametics, and is going to publish it on his fifth volume. It would be great to thank him.

Not to mention the fact that I learnt a lot about number theory from pointers and links to his works found in the Mersenneforum. I'm sure he would enjoy knowing about our use of his ideas.

Luigi[/quote]
That's a good start!

cheesehead 2009-07-29 15:11

[quote=flouran;183201]we should write something more useful than just telling him what his work means to us.[/quote]I have some personal connections to specific items mentioned in his books. Had he not written the books, I might never have discovered the personal links.

[quote]If you don't mind me saying, I think the objective of this thread should be shifted to: what should we write to Knuth about something he would find interesting (other than simply praising him. We can praise him in our letter(s), but that shouldn't be the main and/or only subject of our letter(s)).[/quote]... but it's [u]you[/u], not me, that has ever suggested "praising" him!

At no time have [U]I[/U] ever suggested "praising" Mr. Knuth. That was [U]your[/U] idea and [U]yours alone[/U]. Why do you claim that [U]I[/U] proposed it? Why do you pretend that "praising" was not [U]your[/U] idea? Why won't you take responsibility for being the one to introduce the idea to this thread?

So, yes, I [U]do[/U] mind your saying that the objective of the thread should be shifted from [I]your[/I] idea (but pretending, against my explicit objections, that it was my idea) to something closer to what was actually my idea in the first place! Please stop it. An apology for lying would also be nice.

flouran 2009-07-29 15:14

[QUOTE=cheesehead;183288]
So, yes, I do mind your saying that the objective of the thread should be shifted from [I]your[/I] idea to something closer to what was my idea in the first place![/QUOTE]

Why not incorporate both our ideas together?

cheesehead 2009-07-29 15:30

[quote=flouran;183289]Why not incorporate both our ideas together?[/quote]Where's the apology for lying about whose idea "praising" was?

Are you still pretending that "praising" was my idea, and that your idea was something else, but by combining them you can avoid admitting that?

Why not incorporate truth into your suggestions?

flouran 2009-07-29 15:38

[QUOTE=cheesehead;183291]Where's the apology for lying about whose idea "praising" was?
[/QUOTE]
At the time, I didn't feel any need for an apology. We're all grown-ups here, not 5-year-olds. I guess I am not as pedantic as you when it comes to phrasing. Nonetheless, since you want the apology, I am sorry if I mis-commented about what you said (and I mean that).
[QUOTE=cheesehead;183291]
Are you still pretending that "praising" was my idea, and that your idea was something else, but by combining them you can avoid admitting that?
[/QUOTE]
I am not trying to avoid anything, cheesehead. I only meant to incorporate the ideas as a friendly gesture.
Jeez, some people really go out of their way to be insulted, where none was intended.
I think I agree with _HRB_ on the spinal chord label for you.
[QUOTE=cheesehead;183291]
Why not incorporate truth into your suggestions?[/QUOTE]
Again, I agree with _HRB_ on the spinal chord label for you.

Anyways, I'm not going to argue with you cheesehead. Arguing with you is just like the conflict between Israel and Palestine - seemingly never-ending and pointless, as is evidenced from the [URL="http://mersenneforum.org/showthread.php?t=12182&page=2"]Is there a God? thread[/URL].

flouran 2009-08-17 03:19

:lol:
 
Hilarious! One of my friends showed me this:
[url]http://www.terminally-incoherent.com/blog/2007/06/06/just-like-yoda/[/url]
This is not meant to be an insult to Dr. Knuth, just a joke I thought I would post here about him (since I didn't think it needed to be on a separate thread).


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