Brian Kernighan

Canadian computer scientist

Brian Kernighan. Photo credit: unknown

Brian Wilson Kernighan (born January 1, 1942) is a Canadian computer scientist.

He worked at Bell Labs and contributed to the development of Unix alongside Unix creators Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie. Kernighan's name became widely known through the co-authorship of the first book on the C programming language, 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.” He authored many Unix programs, including ditroff. Kernighan is a co-author of the AWK and AMPL programming languages. The “K” of K&R C and the “K” in AWK both stand for “Kernighan.”

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

Kernighan has been a Professor of Computer Science at Princeton University since 2000 and is the Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Computer Science. In 2015, he co-authored the book The Go Programming Language.

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Here’s what Brian had to say…

In his highest flights, musical and architectural above all, for they are one, man gives the illusion of rivaling the order, the majesty and the splendor of the heavens.
—Henry Miller

Confusion is a word we have invented for an order that is not understood.
—Henry Miller

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