Don Knuth’s thoughts on Bitcoin

Today my Math class had a guest lecturer: the one and only Don Knuth. He’s considered to be “father of the analysis of algorithms” (quote Wikipedia). He’s known to often reenact his first lecture in 1969, and it’s rumored that he still wears the same clothes he wore in that lecture.

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The format of the guest lecture was pretty much a private Q&A session with the eccentric professor. Someone asked: “What’s your favorite combinatorics problem?” and his answer was: “Instant insanity”. It sounded like a really fun game that I should totally try to play with.

Since my friends and I are working on a bitcoin-related project, I wanted to know his thoughts on it. It’s not an entirely irrelevant question given that he has spent some time doing mathematical research in cryptography for NSA. “Well, bitcoin,” Don Knuth chuckled when he heard my question. “What bothers me is that I’ve heard that it [mining bitcoins] consumes 10% of the world’s electricity. I don’t think it solves any of the world’s problems. It just moves money from someone’s pocket to someone else’s.”

I guess Don Knuth is not a big fan of decentralized virtual currency. But to put it into perspective, he’s not a big fan of emails either.

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Don Knuth’s thoughts on Bitcoin

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