Image of computer code

Donald E. Knuth

  • National Medal of Science
  • Mathematics And Computer Science

For his significant research into the mathematical analysis and design of efficient computer algorithms and for his profoundly influential books which have codified fundamental knowledge at the core of computer programming.

When Donald Ervin Knuth was a college student at Case Institute of Technology in Cleveland, Ohio, in the 1950s he showed such intelligence and talent that the faculty voted to award him a master’s degree in mathematics simultaneously with his bachelor’s degree. Knuth has more than fulfilled the potential those educators saw in him.

Even before receiving his doctorate from the California Institute of Technology in 1963, Knuth had begun work on what would become the multi-volume The Art of Computer Programming, which became one of the bibles of Silicon Valley.

Additional books followed as Knuth’s pioneering research into algorithms and computer language grew.

Knuth’s career has included stops at Caltech and Stanford University, bookended around a stint at Institute for Defense Analyses, where he worked in cryptography for the National Security Agency.

Among the many awards Knuth has received include election to the National Academy of Sciences, becoming a fellow in the American Mathematical Society and winning the Alan M. Turing Award in 1974. “Donald Knuth is one of the preeminent computer scientists of our time,’’ the Association of Computing Machinery said.

Knuth, like his father, also played the organ in Lutheran church.

By Robert Warren