One of the really amazing things about Silicon Valley is that there are so many amazing computer-related things happening here. Today’s example: Donald Knuth speaking at Café Scientifique. Knuth is The Professor of the Art of Computer Programming at Stanford; he’s basically a living legend. As much as anything, he’s famous for his 7-volume The Art of Computer Programming series. The first book was published in 1967 or so and was rapidly followed by volumes 2 and 3. He’s still working on volume 4.
Today’s talk was really more of a question-and-answer session then a prepared lecture. I was too busy taking pictures to write down all of the questions, but people mostly concentrated on “what is the biggest accomplishment of…” and “will … ever happen” questions. A couple of the more interesting ones:
- “What do you think the 10 biggest accomplishments of the software industry are?” (He listed Emacs, Google, and Mathematica as things he likes, but didn’t have any real opinion on the top-10 list.)
- “Do you think the singularity will happen?” (No. Er, probably not any time soon, and not like that.)
I just finished uploading the pictures to Flickr, which amazingly didn’t have any Knuth pictures tagged. It was almost too dark for photography; I had to pull out my 85⁄1.8 and shoot with it wide open at my camera’s highest ISO setting in order to have a chance of getting any decent shots. I shot all RAW files this time and used the opportunity to experiment with Adobe’s new Lightroom application; I’ll write up my experiences with Lightroom tomorrow, but I’m fairly positive about it, even though it’s missing a lot of important features.