“The Art of Computer Programming” by Donald Knuth
Carl Tashian
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I learned to program by punching cards and feeding them to an IBM 360. I am programming d3.js interactive data visualization today. I write most of my own functions where speed, consistency, accuracy and reusability are an issue, but I can evaluate libraries and appreciate good work when I see it. I loved the finite math that made such startling inroads through the insights of Von Neumann and Knuth, and I love the power and expressiveness of my javascript development kit. Not equally. But I am finally doing things I could only dream about when an entire Cray computer was the graphics board for a cluster of 4 other Crays at Las Alamos back in 1990. I wouldn’t go back in time to the high-wire romance of bare metal programming, as we called machine language. I like having a callback function on my slider widget encompass thousands of lines of codes in the stack but require only a line or two of code from me. I like that my “app” will be available to thousands of researchers when its done, not just a few dozen.

Leave Knuth on your shelf. But sign up for a few Coursera sessions with Sedgewick while he is still around. If he is. You’ll get all the bare-metal romance of bit-level searches and sorts. If that is still a thing.

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