Talk:Donald Knuth

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Origin of "Premature optimization is the root of all evil"[edit]

Note: It was Tony Hoare who said "Premature optimization is the root of all evil."

You appear to be correct, although many folks attribute Knuth, perhaps because his restatement adds more authority. Anyhow, I moved the quote to attributed. ~ Stevesliva
The first quote in the "Sourced" section has no source that I can find. ~ Stevesliva
Note: I haven't read the book A equals B -- the quotation looks wrong. What Knuth actually says is "Science is knowledge which we understand so well that we can teach it to a computer; and if we don't fully understand something, it is an art do deal with it.". That quote is found in his 1974 ACM Turing Award lecture, reprinted in December 1974 issue of Communications of the ACM 17(12):pp.667-673.
--Mmeri 14:40, 16 May 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Is this the best picture of Don we can come up with? He looks like a prisoner!

Some sources[edit]

The last quote "An algorithm must be seen to be believed" is from "The Art of Computer Programming Vol.1: Fundamental Algorithms" Section 1.1 Page 4. The complete sentence is "...believed, and the best way to learn what an algorithm is all about is to try it."

--Kushal Kumaran 30 June 2005 04:14 (UTC)

"You're full of shit"[edit]

"You're full of shit" doesn't seem to be the kind of words Prof. Knuth uses normally, so that quotation is a somewhat questionable. Anyway, maybe it is correct; but the source doesn't mention "I seriously doubt that" (although that quotation seems way more likely, to me).

It's that story that's full of shit. :-) See Knuth's recent reply here (to something else): The web has thousands of tales that aren't true, about virtually everybody in public life. (Including the story about me and Pixar's CEO.) shreevatsa 09:12, 1 August 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"Who are you, how did you get in my house?"[edit]

May be attributed to him, but I don't know the reliable source. The best source for now is [2] --Jarash (talk) 08:59, 14 April 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Dead link[edit]

In "Counter Claim: Edsger Dijkstra (Tony Hoare) [3]" the link is dead. Hence "A list is only as strong as its weakest link." 07:18, 7 March 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Wikiquote no longer allows unsourced quotations, and they are in process of being removed from our pages (see Wikiquote:Limits on quotations); but if you can provide a reliable, precise and verifiable source for any quote on this list please move it to Donald Knuth. --Antiquary 18:03, 11 September 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

  • A list is only as strong as its weakest link.
  • In fact what I would like to see is thousands of computer scientists let loose to do whatever they want. That's what really advances the field.
  • The hardest thing is to go to sleep at night, when there are so many urgent things needing to be done. A huge gap exists between what we know is possible with today's machines and what we have so far been able to finish.
    • On the biggest challenge facing programmers today
  • The most important thing in the programming language is the name. A language will not succeed without a good name. I have recently invented a very good name and now I am looking for a suitable language.