The tears of Donald Knuth

The tears of Donald Knuth V I viewpoints DOI:10.1145/2688497 Thomas Haigh Historical Reflections The Tears of Donald Knuth Has the history of computing taken a tragic turn? N T H I S CO LU M N I will be looking at the changing relationship between the discipline of computer science and the growing body of scholarly work on the history of computing, beginning with a recent plea made by renowned computer scientist Donald Knuth. This provides an opportunity to point you toward some interesting recent work on the history of computer science and to think more broadly about what the history of computing is, who is writing it, and for whom they are writing. Last year historians of computing heard an odd rumor: that Knuth had given the Kailath lecture at Stanford University and spent the whole time talking about us. Its title, "Let's Not Dumb Down the History of Computer Science," was certainly intriguing, and its abstract confirmed that some forceful positions were being taken.a The online video eventually showed something remarkable: his lecture focused on a single paper, Martin CampbellKelly's 2007 "The History of the History of Software."6,b Reading it had deeply saddened Knuth, who "finished reading it only with great http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Communications of the ACM acm

The tears of Donald Knuth

Communications of the ACM, Volume 58 (1) – Dec 23, 2014

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Publisher
Association for Computing Machinery
Copyright
Copyright © 2014 by ACM Inc.
ISSN
0001-0782
DOI
10.1145/2688497
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

V I viewpoints DOI:10.1145/2688497 Thomas Haigh Historical Reflections The Tears of Donald Knuth Has the history of computing taken a tragic turn? N T H I S CO LU M N I will be looking at the changing relationship between the discipline of computer science and the growing body of scholarly work on the history of computing, beginning with a recent plea made by renowned computer scientist Donald Knuth. This provides an opportunity to point you toward some interesting recent work on the history of computer science and to think more broadly about what the history of computing is, who is writing it, and for whom they are writing. Last year historians of computing heard an odd rumor: that Knuth had given the Kailath lecture at Stanford University and spent the whole time talking about us. Its title, "Let's Not Dumb Down the History of Computer Science," was certainly intriguing, and its abstract confirmed that some forceful positions were being taken.a The online video eventually showed something remarkable: his lecture focused on a single paper, Martin CampbellKelly's 2007 "The History of the History of Software."6,b Reading it had deeply saddened Knuth, who "finished reading it only with great

Journal

Communications of the ACMacm

Published: Dec 23, 2014

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