Donald Knuth Doesn’t Get It?

I was surprised to read excerpts from an interview that Andrew Binstock did with the pre-eminent Donald Knuth regarding aspects of software development methodologies and the state of programming generally.  The summary was provided here:

The actual interview is here:

What I found interesting is that, perhaps not surprisingly, the reviewer (Frank Sommers) doing the summary picks out supposedly controversial topics from the detailed interview leaving the impression that Dr. Knuth is out of touch with software development topics — at least from where I stand.

So I went and read the entire interview.  What I was left with was a brilliant, opinionated academic computer scientist who by his own admission is more interested in the science of computing than in software development per se.

He doesn’t elaborate on what in eXtreme Programming that he finds to be ‘exactly the wrong way to go’ which leads me to assume (perhaps incorrectly) that his objections are more due to the hype often associated with XP than with proper practise of it.  This article comes to mind:

There are a number of things on Dr. Knuth’s website that are interesting.  I’ll be playing with MMIX simulators well into the night..

Then I went to Dr. Knuth’s homepage and discovered his “Infrequently Asked Questions” page:  Dr. Knuth is thinking about other things in a rather lucid way..

Thanks for looking in.


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