09 March 2009

Knuth on solitaire

I'm browsing through Knuth's The Art of Computer Programming (Volume 1, Volume 2, Volume 3), because it's Spring Break, so I have time. I'm reading the mathematical bits, which are perhaps half the work; I'm less interested in the algorithms.

Anyway, we find on page 158 of Volume 2: "Some people spend a lot of valuable time playing card games of solitaire, and perhaps automation will make an important inroad in this area." This is part of Chapter 3, on the generation and testing of random numbers. Of course, this book was published in 1969; Windows Solitaire didn't exist then. (It's also amusing to see Knuth describing things that will be in, say, Chapter 10; he's currently working on Chapter 7, which will be the first half of Volume 4.)


Anonymous said...

It reminds me of Peter Norvig on solving every Sudoko. He gives this reason why he did it:

Why did I do this? As computer security expert Ben Laurie has stated, Sudoku is "a denial of service attack on human intellect". My wife was infected by the virus, and I wanted to convince here that the problem had been solved and didn't need any more of her time. It didn't work for her, but at least one other person has told me it worked for them, so I've made the world more productive.

Anonymous said...

That link should be Peter Norvig on solving every Sudoku.

(I'm nearly finished chapter 6 of TAOCP, I started reading them two years ago)