The book is not an introduction to computer programming; the reader needs to have written some programs already to fully understand it. The main theme of the book can be considered “non-numerical analysis” or “analysis of algorithms” as it focuses on decision-making problems as opposed to mathematical problems.

To help make clear the techniques presented in the book Knuth has created his own “ideal” computer with simple rules of operation.

Knuth considers Volume I as being still under construction, Knuth hopes to create a final, 4th Edition, in 2012.

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