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After the preface to The Art of Computer Programming is the Procedure for Reading This Set of Books.

Step 4 is to begin reading Chapter N, with the specific instruction to "not read the quotations that appear at the beginning of the chapter." (emphasis his).

This section is present in the 1997 3rd edition of Volume 1, but not in 3rd edition of Vol 2 or 2nd edition of Vol 3 both dated 1998.

I have guesses as to why this curious instruction exists, but I've been unable to find any reference to it. Does anyone first hand knowledge about this, or a link to info?

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Because if you do, you will go mad! Seriosuly, don't let this Knuth guy tell you what to do. If you want to read those quotations, I say: Go For It! :P –  FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Jun 6 '11 at 17:24
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that's what the snake said –  scrwtp Jun 6 '11 at 17:32
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I have not been allowed to read them to tell you why... I am caught in a loop. –  RiddlerDev Jun 6 '11 at 19:55
    
You can send the author a letter and ask him (see www-cs-faculty.stanford.edu/~knuth/email.html for his postal address). –  Doc Brown Jan 14 at 20:07
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1 Answer

To make you read them?

Reverse psychology and all that?

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Yes... I can just picture him sitting there thinking "How can I ensure people will read the quotes? I know! I'll tell them not to read them! That'll do it!!" ;) –  FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Jun 6 '11 at 20:17
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Well, given the other well-known practical jokes in his books, I wouldn't be too surprised. –  Rein Henrichs Jun 6 '11 at 21:11
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