The Art of Computer Programming by Donald Knuth is kind of styled like a collegiate text with exercises at the end of each chapter. However, the material is not in any recognizable form for a standard curriculum, so it is hard to imagine the text actually being used for a particular course. Also, the problems are quite hard, not the usual test-your-understanding exercises normally found in textbooks.

Has the ACP ever been used as a primary text in an actual computer science course? If so, which one?

  • $\begingroup$ Since the answer is trivially "Yes!", I'm not sure what this question is about. Yes, these books are not a dummy's guide to AofA, but they are also very well written and accessible to any CS undergrad with a) some mathematical maturity and b) enough tenacity. Point in case, I have assisted in teaching an undergrad course which had students read parts of TAoCP at home. Results were mixed, but mostly because they had not yet learned how "read" such books. $\endgroup$
    – Raphael
    Jan 22, 2017 at 12:13
  • $\begingroup$ @Raphael I didn't ask if it was on the reading list. I asked if it was a PRIMARY TEXT for a computer course. I looked at the CS courses at MIT and Stanford and I could not find any in which it was the primary text. Also, closing my question because it is "unclear" is absurd. The final sentence of the question very clearly and in no uncertain terms identifies the question. Your comment is non-responsive not only because you do not identify the course in question, but also because you are obviously referring to a secondary text in the course not the primary text. $\endgroup$ Jan 22, 2017 at 12:54
  • $\begingroup$ No course I've ever taken had one "primary text"; that's just not how courses usually work over here. Ironically, in that case I describe, TAoCP was the primary source for this segment of the course. $\endgroup$
    – Raphael
    Jan 22, 2017 at 13:48
  • $\begingroup$ That said, in that case you are asking, "are there any courses that work along a textbook that was never intended for that purpose?" with a subtext of "if not, what good is that book?". That is a fundamentally flawed approach -- there are great reference books that you'll never encounter in any course. There is CS outside of undergrad (and graduate) courses; just because your average CS graduate has not encountered something doesn't mean it's relevant. So as long as you don't state very clearly what your real question is, I stand by my close decision. $\endgroup$
    – Raphael
    Jan 22, 2017 at 13:51
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ If you have an issue with my ruling, feel free to take it to Computer Science Meta. Advice: phrase it less as a personal attack. $\endgroup$
    – Raphael
    Jan 22, 2017 at 14:53


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