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Donald Knuth

1998 Fellow

For his fundamental early work in the history of computing algorithms, development of the TeX typesetting language, and for major contributions to mathematics and computer science.


Cover, The Art of Computer Programming, 1968
Cover, The Art of Computer Programming, 1968

Donald Knuth was born in 1938 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and holds a B.S. and M.S. in mathematics from the Case Institute of Technology (1960) and a Ph.D. in mathematics (1963) from Caltech. Over a prolific publishing career, Knuth is best known for having written the classic, multivolume series, The Art of Computer Programming, the "Bible" of computer science pedagogy. Through his writing and teaching at Stanford University, where he was a long-time professor (beginning in 1968), Knuth has influenced the thinking of countless computer science students and professionals.

Knuth's lifelong love affair with computers began as an undergraduate when he discovered the IBM 650 computer system at Case. He quickly mastered the inner workings of the machine and developed a novel program to automate coaching of the school's basketball team, earning him an appearance on the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite.

In 1976, Knuth invented the typesetting language TeX when he grew frustrated with the poor quality of typography proposed for an upcoming new volume of The Art of Computer Programming. TeX remains a worldwide standard for technical publishing.

Knuth has won dozens of awards, including the ACM Turing Award (1974), the National Medal of Science (1979), and the Kyoto Prize (1996).