Knuth, Donald Ervin : Java Glossary


Knuth, Donald Ervin
Another name for God. Knuth has been around longer though. His series of books on algorithms and computing written back in the 1960s are still definitive. Every time I invented an incredible new algorithm, someone would point out the idea was old hat, described in a footnote somewhere in Knuth. I did finally figure out a way of doing multiprecision divide a little faster than his algorithm.He also invented Web literate programming and the TEX typesetting scheme that laid the groundwork for PostScript. He is too busy working on his textbooks to accept email but you can write to him via snail mail at:
Donald E. Knuth
Professor of the Art of Computer Programming
Computer Science Dept., Gates 477
Stanford University
Stanford, CA (California) 94305-9045

Knuth’s Nostrum

Premature optimisation is the root of all evil.
~ Donald Ervin Knuth (1938-01-10 age:80)

The problem is fussing over fine detail to optimise wastes time and obscures the algorithm. Optimisation should be confined to choosing a good algorithm on the first pass. Only after the code is working should you fret over optimisation. Then, only if it needs it, determine the bottlenecks by measurement and fix only those.

Don’t do optimisations the compiler will do for you. That just clutters your code.

People often misapply the nostrum to imply that optimisation itself is evil. Only premature optimisation is.

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