You are here

Selected Papers on Discrete Mathematics

Donald E. Knuth
CSLI Publications
Publication Date: 
Number of Pages: 
CSLI Lecture Notes 106
[Reviewed by
Fernando Q. Gouvêa
, on

Books of collected or selected papers are treasures to be greatly valued, particularly when they collect the work of people who have had a significant impact on their field. We have just received Donald E. Knuth's Selected Papers on Discrete Mathematics, part of a series collecting Knuth's work. This volume, which focuses on discrete mathematics, is a real gem. Knuth writes well, and his papers are always interesting.

Knuth's introduction notes that some of the papers were written purely as expositions of the work of other people, and that the rest contain material that was new at the time. But even in the latter case his goal was always to be understood: "I tried to make every paper self-contained, so that readers with a general mathematical background would be able to understand the details." In other words, non-specialists will enjoy this book. Most of the papers include addenda on further developments, so that in fact the book is not just a historical artifact but also a useful source of up-to-date information.

As one might expect, the book is very well produced. Knuth says that these volumes present his work "in the form that I most wish people to remember it." He clearly means this not only in mathematical terms, but also in terms of book design and typography. This one you want to have.

Fernando Q. Gouvêa is Professor of Mathematics at Colby College in Waterville, ME. He is fanatic about number theory, the history of mathematics, Christian theology, poetry, science fiction, comic books, politics, classics, and football (the real thing, not the American version).

The table of contents is not available.