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Brian Kernighan

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Title: Brian Kernighan  
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Subject: AWK, AMPL, Unix philosophy, Dennis Ritchie, Timeline of programming languages
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Brian Kernighan

Brian Wilson Kernighan
Brian Kernighan at Bell Labs
(Photograph by Ben Lowe)
Born (1942-01-01) January 1, 1942 [1]
Toronto, Canada
Citizenship Canadian
Fields Computer science
Institutions Princeton University
Alma mater University of Toronto
Princeton University
Known for Unix, AWK, AMPL
The C Programming Language (book)

Brian Wilson Kernighan (; born January 1, 1942)[1] is a Canadian computer scientist who worked at Bell Labs alongside Unix creators Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie and contributed to the development of Unix. He is also coauthor of the AWK and AMPL programming languages. The "K" of K&R C and the "K" in AWK both stand for "Kernighan". Since 2000 Brian Kernighan has been a Professor at the Computer Science Department of Princeton University, where he is also the Undergraduate Department Representative.

Kernighan's name became widely known through co-authorship of the first book on the C programming language with Dennis Ritchie. Kernighan affirmed that he had no part in the design of the C language ("it's entirely Dennis Ritchie's work").[2] He authored many Unix programs, including ditroff, and cron for Version 7 Unix.

In collaboration with Shen Lin he devised well-known heuristics for two NP-complete optimization problems: graph partitioning and the travelling salesman problem. (In a display of authorial equity, the former is usually called the Kernighan–Lin algorithm, while the latter is styled Lin–Kernighan.)

Kernighan was the software editor for Prentice Hall International. His "Software Tools" series spread the essence of "C/Unix thinking" with makeovers for BASIC, FORTRAN, and Pascal, and most notably his "Ratfor" (rational FORTRAN) was put in the public domain.

He has said that if stranded on an island with only one programming language it would have to be C.[3]

Kernighan coined the term Unix and helped popularize Thompson's Unix philosophy.[4] Kernighan is also known as a coiner of the expression "What You See Is All You Get" (WYSIAYG), which is a sarcastic variant of the original "What You See Is What You Get" (WYSIWYG). Kernighan's term is used to indicate that WYSIWYG systems might throw away information in a document that could be useful in other contexts.

Kernighan's original 1978 implementation of Hello, World! was sold at The Algorithm Auction, the world’s first auction of computer algorithms.[5]

Early life and education

Brian Kernighan speaks at a tribute to Dennis Ritchie in 2012 at Bell Labs.

Born in Toronto, Kernighan attended the University of Toronto between 1960 and 1964, earning his Bachelor's degree in engineering physics.[2] He received his PhD in electrical engineering from Princeton University, where he has held a professorship in the department of computer science since 2000. Each fall he teaches a course called "Computers in Our World", which introduces the fundamentals of computing to non-majors.

Summary of achievements



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External links

  • Brian Kernighan's home page at Princeton U.
  • Brian Kernighan's home page at Bell Labs
  • "Why Pascal is Not My Favorite Programming Language" — By Brian Kernighan, AT&T Bell Labs, 2 April 1981
  • "Leap In and Try Things" — Interview with Brian Kernighan — on "Harmony at Work Blog", October 2009.
  • An Interview with Brian Kernighan — By Mihai Budiu, for PC Report Romania, August 2000
  • Transcript of an interview with Brian Kernighan at the Wayback Machine (archived April 28, 2009) – Interview by Michael S. Mahoney at the Wayback Machine (archived May 28, 2009)
  • Video — TechNetCast At Bell Labs: Dennis Ritchie and Brian Kernighan (1999-05-14)
  • Video (Princeton University, September 7, 2003) — "Assembly for the Class of 2007: 'D is for Digital and Why It Matters'"
  • A Descent into Limbo by Brian Kernighan
  • Photos of Brian Kernighan
  • Works by Brian Kernighan at Open Library
  • Video interview with Brian Kernighan for Princeton Startup TV (2012-03-20)
  • The Setup, Brian Kernighan
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