Things a Computer Scientist Rarely Talks about

Donald E. Knuth

Book cover

How does a computer scientist understand infinity? What can probability theory teach us about free will? Can mathematical notions be used to enhance one's personal understanding of the Bible? This book contains six informal lectures by computer scientist Donald E. Knuth exploring the relationship between his vocation and his faith, revealing the unique perspective that his work with computing has lent to his understanding of God. Knuth's starting point is his 3:16 project, an application of mathematical random sampling to the books of the Bible. The first lectures tell the story of the project's conception and execution, exploring the complex dimensions of language translation, aesthetics, and theological history. Knuth also reveals the many insights that he has gained along the way from such interdisciplinary work. The theological musings culminate in a final lecture which tackles infinity, free will, and the other big questions that lie at the juncture of theology and computation. Each lecture ends with a question and answer exchange.