Saturday, July 3

Help Wanted

Programmers only: Don Knuth, you may know, has been for some time writing Volume 4 of The Art of Computer Programming. This, he says, should be available in 2007 with Volume 5 following in 2010; in the meantime you should own the first three volumes. Much has been written on Knuth, such as this 1999 piece in Salon.

For the new volumes, Knuth decided to retire the hypothetical MIX computer used for programming examples in vols 1-3, in favor of a brand new, modern (but still hypothetical) RISC processor he calls MMIX. This change motivates a significant porting project:

All of the MIX programs in Volumes 1--3 will need to be rewritten in MMIX, before I finish the ``ultimate'' edition of those volumes that I plan to write after Volume 5 is completed. The current target date for the ultimate volumes is the year 2011, so there is plenty of time to do the conversion. But I think it will be an instructive undertaking if different groups of students from around the world try to do the necessary translations first, perhaps in friendly competitions, long before I get into the act.

If you want the job, you'd better hurry-up — lots of the positions have been taken. Apply at MMIXMasters.

If recoding algorithms from one machine language to another doesn't interest you, perhaps you'd be interested in:

...a level-50 exercise that asks a highly motivated reader to ``Write a book about operating systems, which includes a complete design of an NNIX kernel for the MMIX architecture.''

Ken Thompson, call your office.

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