Lex Fridman Talks to Gosling, Kernighan and Knuth
Written by Sue Gee   
Sunday, 27 September 2020

As editor of I Programmer, I'm keen on the history of computer programming and this week I've come across a new resource - a series of podcasts in which Lex Fridman interviews some of the biggest names in computer science.

The Lex Fridman Podcast was formerly known as The Artificial Intelligence Podcast and the first one dates from April 2018. They are all conducted by Lex Fridman, an AI researcher at MIT. Fridman does have some specifically AI-oriented interviews, there's one with Andrew Ng, for example.

The one that alerted me to the series, however, was one posted on You Tube a week ago with James Gosling, the creator of the Java Language and is the one hundred and twenty sixth in the series. 


(click on image to go direct to YouTube)

The conversation ranges widely, starting with Lex Fridman noting that he had heard that Gosling's favorite irrational number is the square root of two. Soon however it moves on to Gosling's reminiscences of his first encounter with a computer at the University of Calgary. 

A nice feature of the video, which you have to go to YouTube to watch as embedding on other websites has been disabled, is that it it is split up into "chapters", that you can easily navigate to. 


While watching a video the red line that extends as you watch isn't continouous but "chunked" with a "path" below it telling you which "chapter" you are in and what comes next.


The outline for the interview with Brian Kernighan, which dates from a couple of months ago is as follows: 

0:00 - Introduction
4:24 - UNIX early days
22:09 - Unix philosophy
31:54 - Is programming art or science?
35:18 - AWK
42:03 - Programming setup
46:39 - History of programming languages
52:48 - C programming language
58:44 - Go language
1:01:57 - Learning new programming languages
1:04:57 - Javascript
1:08:16 - Variety of programming languages
1:10:30 - AMPL
1:18:01 - Graph theory
1:22:20 - AI in 1964
1:27:50 - Future of AI
1:29:47 - Moore's law
1:32:54 - Computers in our world
1:40:37 - Life


The interview with Donald Knuth comes from earlier in the series and while it has a detailed outline, predates the YouTube chapter facility. Don't let this deter you from watching it, however the conversation about AI topics, plus Donald Knuth's work on Algorithms, Complexity, and, of course, The Art of Computer Programming makes for a fascinating hour and three quarters.



More Information

Lex Fridman Podcast

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