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The Art of Computer Programming, Volume 4A: Combinatorial Algorithms, Part 1 Hardcover – Jan 12 2011
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About the Author
Donald E. Knuth is known throughout the world for his pioneering work on algorithms and programming techniques, for his invention of the TEX and METAFONT systems for computer typesetting, and for his prolific and influential writing (26 books, 161 papers). Professor Emeritus of The Art of Computer Programming at Stanford University, he currently devotes full time to the completion of his seminal multivolume series on classical computer science, begun in 1962 when he was a graduate student at California Institute of Technology. Professor Knuth is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including the ACM Turing Award, the Medal of Science presented by President Carter, the AMS Steele Prize for expository writing, and, in November, 1996, the prestigious Kyoto Prize for advanced technology. He lives on the Stanford campus with his wife, Jill.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Knuth is attempting to discuss all the algorithms that will still be important 50 years from now. The amount of speed given using these algorithms is staggering.
Some examples topics in the book:
Page 222 - Algorithm S: Breadth-first synthesis of BDDs
Page 293 - Balanced and Complementary Gray codes.
Page 424 - Stirling numbers and set partitions.
Page 449 - Generating binary trees
Helpful mathematical illustrations feature prominently throughout the book, and pretty much every page is gorgeously formatted. Knuth developed TeX in part to produce beautiful books, and that is on display here.
Many thoughtful questions are provided as an aid to learning these very useful techniques. The Answers section runs for 303 pages.
It will take me months or years to digest most the information in this work, but I can't imagine a better presentation for this difficult but lucratively useful material.
A careful reading and comparison of both shows that although most of the topics are covered in both, as this "IS" the final publication with corrections of the fascicles, the fascicles add important background as well as detail, whereas 4A is a MUST due to the incredible number of new problems and answers. As a compromise if you're on a budget, you could get 4A for all combinatorials, or, for example, get fascicle 0 if you're more into logic design, circuits, etc. rather than all combinatorics. Do NOT buy all 5 fascicles AND this book, or you'll be double paying. However, the fascicles, in the older form, are available as .pdfs free. THIS BOOK updates and corrects all of them, and is complete.
I can't give all the contents for thousands of pages here, but if you go to Dr. Knuth's website, there are uncorrected .pdf copies of the whole series, and an index of all past and future versions. Just Bing or Google the title with Volume 4A and choose the link that starts with cs dot utsa dot edu (Dr. Don's site). The links come back here to Amazon for purchase, but give full uncorrected .pdfs to save you money on the previous fascicles as you compare them to this newer 2011 volume. That will also let you see in detail which, if any, of the previous fascicles you really want combined with 4A. Realize, though, that Dr. Knuth has corrected MANY sections in this 2011 combinatorial text, so even if you like the .pdfs of the previous sicles, you'll clearly want 4A.
In fact, when you go to that site, there is even a "volume 5/part B" uncorrected fascicle available as an advance .pdf. The Stanford site even has a few more. It gives valuable math background on the coming new part 2 volumes (4B, 4C etc.) of combinatorics (click on "pre fascicle 5A"), namely many of the discrete probability spaces not covered in any of the previous volumes, yet much more important today than ever before. Disclaimed as a probably error copy for expert circulation pre publication, still, I'd take Knuth's errors over most expert's correct info!!! A great read to bring the current 2011 volume, as well as the original combinatorics volume (v 1 fascicle 1, 2/2005; p. 144), up to date on stochastics not covered until 2013.
With his usual humility, Knuth "apologizes" that he's only now getting around to as important a topic as probability in the intro to 4B-- basically apologizing for what NO ONE knew in the 60's! He even asks if some of his earlier "not yet solved" problems might actually be solved with newer stochastic algorithms. He posts these updates both on his site and in the latest fascicles, so readers can stay up to date even on the cutting edge research. What a sweet man! Needless to say, you'll love this volume along with the web content and augmenting fascicles.
Knuth, who is 76 at this writing, also disclaims that 4B, C, D etc. are health dependent. God bless and long life Doc.
UPDATE: Dr. Knuth emailed us with this update on both the fascicles and upcoming new features:
"...I can imagine that somebody would like to buy just
one of those five (...v4f0, v4f1, v4f2, v4f3, or v4f4), because
of special interest in (or maybe teaching a class about) just one
topic. Also, the stuff on pages 48--75 of v4f4 --- the
historical survey of combinatorial generation --- is the most
"reader friendly" part of the whole book, it can be appreciated
by non-specialists of many flavors; so as a small paperback it is
handier than the full 900-page book, in spite of some warts.
By the way, v1f1 is already out in eBook form, and we expect to have it
joined by Volumes 1, 2, 3, and 4A before October. We have taken special
pains to provide optimum cross-references (hyperlinks) within these
electronic versions, and to make searches work well (although some of the
current reader-apps aren't real fast when searching in a 900-page eBook)."
Just having Knuth on my bookshelf makes me feel a whole lot smarter.