An Eye for Detail Brings Unique Rewards

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Knuth and Markov (right) meet in Palo Alto to discuss research that Markov did with Prof. Karem Sakallah and their students ten years ago, and which is covered in the just-released draft of the fourth volume of Knuth's iconic "Art of Computer Programming."

Prof. Igor Markov has received two Knuth reward checks in exchange for suggesting improvements to publications authored by Prof. Donald Knuth of Stanford. According to MIT Technology Review, "Knuth’s reward checks are among computerdom's most prized trophies."

One of Prof. Markov's Knuth checks. Full image.

In the preface of each of his books and on his website, Knuth offers a reward of one hexadecimal dollar ($2.56 USD) to the first person to find each error in his published books, whether it be technical, typographical, or historical. Knuth writes checks to recipients from his own "Bank of San Serriffe."

Prof. Markov made suggestions to Prof. Knuth that were related to mathematical clarity and writing style, and pointed out errors that included incorrect literature references and wording.

He has received one check for finding two bugs and making two suggestions (two hexadecimal dollars for each bug and 20 hex cents for each suggestion) and a second for making a suggestion (20 hex cents, or 32 cents USD). This totals to $2.60 hex dollars, or $6.08 USD. He has no plans to cash the checks, saying "the checks themselves are the prize."

Posted: August 10, 2015