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2014 Kailath Lecture: Stanford Professor Donald Knuth

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Published on May 30, 2014

"Let's Not Dumb Down the History of Computer Science" -Professor Emeritus Donald Knuth, Stanford University

For many years the history of computer science was presented in a way that was useful to computer scientists. But nowadays almost all technical content is excised; historians are concentrating rather on issues like how computer scientists have been able to get funding for their projects, and/or how much their work has influenced Wall Street. We no longer are told what ideas were actually discovered, nor how they were discovered, nor why they are great ideas. We get only a scorecard.

In this talk, Professor Donald Knuth explains why he is grateful for the continued excellence of papers on mathematical history, and he makes a plea for historians of computer science to get back on track.

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