Donald Ervin Knuth (pron.: // kə-nooth; born January 10, 1938) is a computer scientist and Professor Emeritus at Stanford University.
He is the author of the seminal multi-volume work The Art of Computer Programming.Knuth has been called the "father" of the analysis of algorithms. He contributed to the development of the rigorous analysis of the computational complexity of algorithms and systematized formal mathematical techniques for it. In the process he also popularized the asymptotic notation.
In addition to fundamental contributions in several branches of theoretical computer science, Knuth is the creator of the TeX computer typesetting system, the relatedMETAFONT font definition language and rendering system, and the Computer Modernfamily of typefaces.
As a writer and scholar, Knuth created the WEB and CWEB computer programming systems designed to encourage and facilitate literate programming, and designed theMIX/MMIX instruction set architectures.
As an important member of the academic and scientific community Professor Donald Knuth is strongly opposed to the policy of granting software patents. He has expressed his disagreement directly to the patent offices of the United States and Europe.
If only they had listened to him then! And what a mess the US patent system has become, because they did not listen. Hopefully, Europe will not make the same mistake. You can find the other amicus briefs and letters submitted to the EPO here, and I'll be publishing several of them here on Groklaw in time, to show more reasons why software patents are viewed as so harmful by programmers, those most directly impacted by whatever decision the EPO's Enlarged Board of Appeal reaches.
I am told that the courts are trying to make a distinction between mathematical algorithms and nonmathematical algorithms. To a computer scientist, this makes no sense, because every algorithm is as mathematical as anything could be. An algorithm is an abstract concept unrelated to physical laws of the Universe.