The bible of all fundamental algorithms and the work that taught many of today’s software developers most of what they know about computer programming.
—Byte, September 1995
Countless readers have spoken about the profound personal influence of Knuth’s work. Scientists have marveled at the beauty and elegance of his analysis, while ordinary programmers have successfully applied his “cookbook” solutions to their day-to-day problems. All have admired Knuth for the breadth, clarity, accuracy, and good humor found in his books.
I can’t begin to tell you how many pleasurable hours of study and recreation they have afforded me! I have pored over them in cars, restaurants, at work, at home… and even at a Little League game when my son wasn’t in the line-up.
Primarily written as a reference, some people have nevertheless found it possible and interesting to read each volume from beginning to end. A programmer in China even compared the experience to reading a poem.
If you think you’re a really good programmer… read [Knuth’s] Art of Computer Programming… You should definitely send me a résumé if you can read the whole thing.
Whatever your background, if you need to do any serious computer programming, you will find your own good reason to make each volume in this series a readily accessible part of your scholarly or professional library.
It’s always a pleasure when a problem is hard enough that you have to get the Knuths off the shelf. I find that merely opening one has a very useful terrorizing effect on computers.
In describing the new fourth volume, one reviewer listed the qualities that distinguish all of Knuth’s work.
[In sum:] detailed coverage of the basics, illustrated with well-chosen examples; occasional forays into more esoteric topics and problems at the frontiers of research; impeccable writing peppered with occasional bits of humor; extensive collections of exercises, all with solutions or helpful hints; a careful attention to history; implementations of many of the algorithms in his classic step-by-step form.
These four books comprise what easily could be the most important set of information on any serious programmer’s bookshelf.
- I read this book cover to cover which took me over 3 months, and I was extremely impressed with this collection. Knuth turns computer programming into an art form as the title suggests.
There is a lot of history which Knuth makes interesting by stating which algorithms were remarkable discoveries and which were logical extensions of other algorithms. The analysis is much more in depth than other authors especially with regards to run time performance.
At the end of each section there are tons of problems to solve, and full answers are in the back. I especially liked how each problem has a rating on its difficulty. For example, a problem with a rating 10 is easy, rating 25 might take an hour… up to rating 50 which is an unsolved problem in computer science.
Volume one starts with the first 150 pages being math related to computer science. Then the assembly language is introduced which many of the algorithms are written in. The choice for assembly was made so as to not commit to one specific language’s paradigm.
Volume two gets into the heart of the algorithms. A lot of interesting things about floating point calculations, and prime number discovery. My overall understanding of computer science improved a ton here.
Volume three was my personal favorite. Knuth explains searching and sorting very well. The evolution of the “trie” data structure was impressive. At first he shows a way to make a trie in a way I had never seen before. Then he showed another way, and finally he got to the modern way I had seen. With this knowledge, I understood how the trie was discovered, how it was improved, and then improved again. Every other algorithm book just shows the modern trie without explaining how they got there.
Volume four is heavy on math again with a lot about permutations and combinatorics. This was the most difficult of the books I felt but also rewarding.
Knuth’s writing is excellent. Each sentence is clear and communicates in a way that makes computer history interesting.
The box set itself is beautiful and the paper is high quality. I wish I could give more than 5 stars for the review.
- This is a great set that should be on every programmer’s bookshelf. They look beautiful in the boxed set with high quality covers as well as pages. Bill Gates once said about these books: “If somebody is so brash that they think they know everything, Knuth will help them understand that the world is deep and complicated.” I think that they are great for reference. Now that I am no longer in an academic setting, I think that I can enjoy expanding my knowledge base slowly moving through this content. For any programmer looking to enhance their knowledge base, this is the perfect book set to invest in.
- I had these books as the references when I was doing my graduate degree 27 years back. As a student, struggled thru to understand concept behind algorithms for sorting & searching. Bought these books little after graduating and started my professional career as programmer. Have used the various methods prescribed in these books in last 25 years while moving thru development food chain and cannot thank enough for its usefulness end relevance in present day. Sometimes, sad to see that we are now missing the very fundamentals for RADs.
- I had read Knuth in college a couple of decades ago, as part of a course. Reading the books again after all these year, without the academic pressure – Just curling up in bed, on a Saturday afternoon, opening just about any chapter, marveling at the sheer beauty of the algorithms Knuth has put together, and the way Knuth has put them together – is such a pleasure.
This set is sure to be a standard reference book on your wall. I bought mine because of that last volume, which was not available in the book store near me. I plan to take my time to read through volumes 1-3, at leisure over the next several weekends, when I get a few hours to spare at home, before I hit that last volume.
I was expecting a book with a good glossy cover (talk about judging a book by its cover!). The contents are simply fabulous, and the print quality and the paper inside are great.