The Art of Computer Programming

What Does The Art of Computer Programming Mean?

“The Art of Computer Programming,” often abbreviated TAOCP, is a book by a computer scientist and mathematician named Donald Knuth. The book was written in the 1960s and has been continuously expanded in installments, with the most recent volume published in December 2015.


Techopedia Explains The Art of Computer Programming

“The Art of Computer Programming” attempts to cover different types of programming algorithms and operations, as well as other aspects of computer science. Much of the work in the initial volumes is based on the relatively less complex programming fundamentals of the earlier era, from the 1960s to the 1990s, prior to the development of more modern languages like Java and Python. Rather than covering relatively new concepts like machine learning, many of the chapters and volumes of “The Art of Computer Programming” focus on mathematical computing, information structures, and ideas like recursion and lexical scanning.

A detailed table of contents shows all of the different classical ideas and concepts related to algorithms and computer programming that are treated in this broad survey of programming concepts.

Although “The Art of Computer Programming” is widely recognized in some circles as a definitive resource for programming, some describe it as more of a status symbol, or part of the technology subculture. Knuth himself points out that the book is designed to be used in conjunction with self-study or classroom study, since it is exceedingly difficult to learn about computer science only through reading.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.