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ACM Turing Award Lectures : The First Twenty Years : 1966 to by Susan Graham and Robert Ashenhurst (Edited and Introduction

By Susan Graham and Robert Ashenhurst (Edited and Introduction by)

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Extra resources for ACM Turing Award Lectures : The First Twenty Years : 1966 to 1985 (ACM Press Anthology Series)

Example text

In a very similar way, the vocabulary, the examples, the algorithms and the insight that Don Knuth has provided in his excellent collection of books and papers have begun to find their way into a great many discussions in almost every area of the field. This does not happen easily. As every author knows, e'ven a single volume requires a great deal of careful organization and hara work. All the more must we appreciate the clear view and the patience and energy which Knuth must have had to plan seven volumes and to set about implementing his plan so carefully and thoroughly.

To put it in another way: as the power of available machines grew by a factor of more than a thousand, society's ambition to apply these machines grew in proportion and it was the poor programmer who found his job in this exploded field of tension between ends and means. The increased power of the hardware, together with the perhaps even 20 EDSGER W. DIJKSTRA more dramatic increase in its reliability, made solutions feasible that the programmer had not dared to dream about a few years before. And now, a few years later, he had to dream about them and, even worse, he had to transform such dreams into reality!

The first effect of teaching a methodology-rather than disseminating knowledge-is that of enhancing the capacities of the already capable, thus magnifying the difference in intelligence. In a society in which the educational system is used as an instrument for the establishment of a homogenized culture, in which the cream is prevented from rising to the top, the education of competent programmers could be politically unpalatable. Let me conclude. Automatic computers have now been with us for a quarter of a century.

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