Knuth's 22nd 360 Degree Not Christmas Tree Lecture
Written by Alex Armstrong   
Saturday, 24 December 2016

Every year Donald Knuth traditionally gives a lecture inspired by some tree-like topic, and even though he gave up the tree theme a year or two ago, the lecture is still called the Christmas Tree Lecture. This year's is a technological breakthrough because it was videoed in 4K 360. 




Donald Knuth should be known to you but just in case - he invented the TeX computer typesetting system, is the author of the monumental work The Art of Computer Programming and of many algorithms. He also has a strange sense of humour, so look out for it when you watch the video.

But we cannot ignore the content, after all substance is more important than...

In his talk, Knuth will explore “Hamiltonian Paths” both in antiquity and in more recent times. William Rowan Hamilton was a celebrated 19th-century Irish mathematician and scientist who invented the Icosian Game, which involves finding a route through all points of a network without retracing your steps.

“Variants of his game have turned out to be important in many modern computer applications,” said Knuth, who will exhibit Greco-Roman, Arabic and Sanskrit precursors that suggest that this is one of the oldest combinatorial math problems in existence.

However the medium is the message and so if you have wanted to be at one of Knuth's lectures this might be your chance to get as close to the experience as makes no difference:

“This year, our Learning Innovation team is going to be piloting the use of a new virtual reality 360-degree video camera that will actually allow all those people tuning in over the internet to attend the lecture as if they were physically in the auditorium,” said Michael Rouan, managing director of Learning Innovation at SCPD, which is part of the Office of the Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning. “The really cool part of this is that each of those individuals will be able to ‘control’ what they see at any point and ‘look around the room’ for a virtual front-row seat experience.”

Just watch, but be warned many find Knuth's delievery difficult and it is 1 hour and 24 minutes long. But it is worth it:



You sould be able to move the viewpoint by dragging a mouse across the screen. 


More Information

Computer Musings 

The Art of Computer Programming: Volume 4, Pre-fascicle 5B: Introduction to Backtracking (pdf)

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How not to shuffle - the Knuth Fisher-Yates algorithm 

 //No Comment - Three Videos, Alan Kay, Donald Knuth & Bjarne Stroustrup 


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