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Donald Knuth

Donald Knuth is generally recognized as the Father of Computer Science: He has published numerous papers in both computer science and mathematics. (He also comments that switching back and forth between the two fields requires a distinct mental changing of gears.)

He founded modern computational complexity theory, including introducing the now-familiar "big-O" notation for asymtotic efficiency of an algorithm.

He developed LR parsing theory which (once the additional refinements leading to LALR parsing were developed) lead to the parser generators such as yacc which power almost all modern compilers.

He is perhaps best known in the programming fraternity for his eternally unfinished Art Of Computer Programming series summarizing and analysing the important algorithms for sequential computers: After completing three of a projected five volumes, he became dissatisfied with the typesetting technology he had to use, and stopped to write a little formatter that grew into the TeX typesetting program plus the Metafont font generation program plus a series of five books on them. More recently, he has also detoured to write a program (and book) on generation of graphs and datasets. It has now (1994) been twenty-six years since the first part of Volume One appeared, and twenty-one years since Volume Three first appeared, but I see the publishers are listing Volume Four as "forthcoming", so I'm sure we can expect prompt completion of the work ... grin.

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