Donald J. Knuth, a professor of computer science at Stanford University, discussed his programming method in his lecture “Dancing Links” Friday at 1 p.m. in Wege Auditorium.
Knuth used his programming method to solve numerous problems for the audience. For example, in the “Eight Queens” problem, he used the program to create a scenario where eight queens on a chessboard cannot attack each other.
He also worked on other various puzzles using pentamenos (five squares put together to form various shapes), hexiamonds (six diamonds put together) and tetrasticks (a game using curved sticks). For the pentamenos, Knuth showed that there were 65 different ways to put these shapes together and how a computer could be programmed to do such a task.
Knuth also demonstrated how he tried – with much difficulty – to fit the tetrasticks into a shape called an “Aztec Diamond.” Finally, he said, a computer scientist from Europe had figured out how to solve the problem.
Knuth presented the conundrums in an easy to understand, sometimes quite humorous, light that kept the entire audience enraptured.
While at Stanford, Knuth has written numerous books, such as The Art of Computer Programming, published over 300 papers and won awards such as the Japanese Nobel Prize and the American Science Award. His work has also been published in MAD Magazine.