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Things a Computer Scientist Rarely Talks About

4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  117 ratings  ·  20 reviews
How does a computer scientist understand infinity? What can probability theory teach us about free will? Can mathematical notions be used to enhance one's personal understanding of the Bible?

Perhaps no one is more qualified to address these questions than Donald E. Knuth, whose massive contributions to computing have led others to nickname him "The Father of Computer Scien
Paperback, 257 pages
Published August 1st 2003 by Center for the Study of Language and Inf (first published 2001)
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Matt Hartzell
Jul 19, 2010 Matt Hartzell rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: CS Majors, Christians, Thinkers
Recommended to Matt by: David Hansen
I thought Knuth's book was fairly interesting. This book is actually a transcription of several lectures he gave at MIT, on the topic of how spirituality, art and creativity intermingle with computer science. He spent a fair amount of time talking about the other book he wrote, 3:16, which kind of makes me wish I had just read that one instead.

Knuth brings together a seemingly unrelated number of topics. As one of the most prolific computer scientists alive today, he is also a Christian. One th
Dylan Groves
famous computer scientist donald knuth talks about the relationship between his academic work and his lutheran faith. it doesn't answer the big questions, but it poses and takes stabs at lots of smaller interesting ones.

three takeaways:

1 - a really good way to look deeply into something is to randomly sample parts of it and look very deeply at those parts, their origins, their operations and their purpose.

2 - great work - science, engineering, literature, theology - should always remain commit
Any time Donald Knuth writes something it is well worth reading...but this is a special gem. I was expecting something very different when I bought this book...but what I got was very valuable. This book is something that not only every Computer Scientist should read but everyone who deals with information, computers, graphics, and data should read. It won't directly lead you down specific paths...but you will get great insights into mankind, machines, and the nature of the soul. Very well worth ...more
This really isn't a 5-star book in many senses. As transcripts of lectures (and very exact ones at that) it takes a little getting used to reading, at least one chapter was way to technical for me, and there were theological conclusions which I couldn't agree with.

But I just had to give it five stars because this book tries to do what no book I've read has tried before: to bring together computer science, and its way of thinking, and applies that to God. Knuth's way of going about getting to kno
This was my second time reading this book. I like seeing Knuth's combination of faith and nerdiness. I really liked seeing the samples of the calligraphy in his other book, 3:16. Maybe someday I'll buy a copy.
Nick Black
Amazon, 2008-10-03. Interesting set of lectures, largely about the random sampling of the Bible Knuth used to write 3:16.
The famous computer scientist was raised a Lutheran, and as he was entering old age, he decided to learn the Bible better. Since the whole Bible is huge, he decided to take a sample of the Bible. The sample did not have to be random: it could be merely arbitrary; since John 3:16 is a famous verse, he decided to study verse 3:16 of every book in the Christian Bible. It was like pivoting on array element 316 in Quicksort: it does not guarantee that Quicksort doesn't become quadratic, but neither d ...more
Pito Salas
Only the computer geeks out there will recognize this name, who is more or less the top computer scientist ever, who wrote some of the seminal books on the topic. It turns out that this book of all things is about biblical text interpretation and his insights from doing a lot of work. The beauty of this book is Knuth's writing and the way his mind works, which is a pleasure to behold.
Jonathan Chan
Was actually tricked into reading this book, thinking it'd be some biographical work revolving Knuth's career with computers. But I was pleasantly surprised -- I rarely, if ever, read about religion, even less so a book that is a first-person account of it. Yet Knuth is level-minded, fair, and insightful. Although I thoroughly enjoyed his exposition of the intersection between CS and religion, I found his thoughts on religious interpretation, which is central the his related book 3:16 Bible Text ...more
The father of computer science discusses his faith and unique method of random sampling Bible verses in six lectures delivered at MIT. I found the final lecture and panel discussion among distinguished computer scientists the most interesting.
Knuth does not claim to have any particular qualification to write about Christianity, having had no formal training in theology, but I am VERY glad he went ahead with the project anyway. I found this to be an interesting, if eclectic, selection of ideas relating to faith that had some link to his work in computer science. I found it helpful in particular to learn tidbits about how computer scientists think. Especially interesting is his description of why he decided to use random sampling to st ...more
very interesting book about Knuth's faith (Lutheran) among other things.
i have long-adored don knuth for his genius in computer programming and ability to teach others this knowledge. he is a deeply religious man, which is why i thought this book was pretty interesting, basically because faith and logic don't necessarily go hand-in-hand. i enjoyed his ideas in the book a lot, although the book is a transcription of lectures, which makes it a less enjoyable read than if it was originally written as a book.
Jeroen Vaelen
Too much religion for me to really enjoy it but there were some very interesting points and thoughts throughout the book.
Inspiring lectures that shed some light on computer science as a whole. The greatest aspect is that Knuth is on the one hand an aesthete, on the other hand a rigorous mathematician - combining it both in his religious believes. Also, the calligraphies are truly beautiful!
He makes Maths and Computer Science, particularly unusual ideas and applications with in them very interesting.
Rey Raúl Coaguila
Too much religion... but there were some interesting thoughts throughout the book.
An incredible discussion about mathematics and religion. Very glad I read it.
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Donald Ervin Knuth, born January 10th 1938, is a renowned computer scientist and Professor Emeritus of the Art of Computer Programming at Stanford University.

Author of the seminal multi-volume work The Art of Computer Programming ("TAOCP"), Knuth has been called the "father" of the analysis of algorithms, contributing to the development of, and systematizing formal mathematical techniques for, the
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“Science is what we understand well enough to explain to a computer; art is everything else.” 60 likes
“In fact, my experiences as I was writing the 3:16 book weren't that different from writing computer books, although I wasn't using integral signs as much.” 1 likes
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