Brian Wilson Kernighan
(the 'g' is silent), (born 1942, Toronto
) is a computer scientist
who worked at Bell Labs
creators Ken Thompson
and Dennis Ritchie
and contributed greatly to Unix and its school of thought. 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'.
Kernighan's name became widely known through co-authorship of the first book on the C programming language with Dennis Ritchie. Kernighan has said 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.
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.)
Brian 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.
He received his Bachelor's degree
in Engineering Physics
from the University of Toronto
. 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.
He has on occasion revealed it was his own pun which led to the use of the name 'Unix' (initially 'Unics') for the operating system Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie were working on.
Summary of Achievements
- Hello, world, a program originally written by Brian Kernighan of Bell Labs in "A Tutorial Introduction to the Language B"
- The AWK programming language, along with Al Aho and Peter J. Weinberger, and its book The AWK Programming Language
- The AMPL programming language
- The Elements of Programming Style, with P. J. Plauger
- Ratfor, along with P. J. Plauger
- Software Tools, a book and set of tools for Ratfor, cocreated in part with P. J. Plauger
- Software Tools in Pascal, a book and set of tools for PASCAL, with P. J. Plauger
- The Unix Programming Environment, a tutorial book along with Rob Pike
- The C Programming Language along with C creator Dennis Ritchie, the first ever book on C
- The pic typesetting language for troff
- The eqn typesetting language for troff, along with Lorinda Cherry
- The Practice of Programming, with Rob Pike
- Why Pascal is Not My Favorite Programming Language, a popular criticism of the Pascal programming language by Niklaus Wirth. Some parts of the criticism are obsolete due to ISO 7185 (Programming Languages - Pascal), the criticism was written before ISO 7185 was even created. See below for a link. (AT&T Computing Science Technical Report #100)
- ditroff, or "device independent troff", which allowed troff to be used with any device
- The m4 macro processing language, with Dennis Ritchie