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How a Startup from Krakow Got Mentioned
in “The Art of Computer Programming”

Bez kategorii, Blog | 0 comments

Every software engineer has heard of Donald Knuth and his book series “The Art of Computer Programming”, called the Computer Programmer’s Bible. But not everyone knows about professor Knuth’s fascination with Hamiltonian graphs. This story begins with his visit to the British Museum in London, where he examined ancient Greek icosahedrons whose labels form a Hamiltonian cycle: Α, Β, Γ, Δ, … , Τ, Υ, Α. Inspired by the exhibits, he added an assignment to his upcoming book. In exercise 7.2.2.4.9, he asked to design a 21st-century version of such an icosahedron, where the bottom edge of each Latin letter A, B, C, D, … , S, T, A coincides with an upper edge of the previous letter. The solution to the exercise ended with the sentence “It would be nice to own a 3D-printed object like this!”

Our company, Sinterit, founded in 2014 in Krakow, Poland, produces 3D printers that solidify nylon particles by heating them with a laser. This process is known as sintering. Compared to the familiar FDM 3D models, our printouts are more precise, flexible, reliable, and elaborate.

When a friend of ours who is a fan of Knuth told us about the exercise, we took up the challenge. The typeface we chose for the labels is Palatino, designed by professor Knuth’s friend, Hermann Zapf. Here is how the icosahedron looked like before we shipped it:

On a side note, the exercise is not officially available. Professor Knuth puts subsequent fascicles (pamphlets) of “The Art of Computer Programming” on the web under predictable names. Even though there are no links to the fascicle with the exercise, its URL was easy to guess.

With great joy, one day we found among the incoming mail a letter from professor Knuth and one of his famous checks for improving his book.

In the new version of the solution, the following text appears: “The author cherishes a 3D-printed object like this, received as a surprise gift in 2016.”

Watch professor Knuth tell the story of receiving the icosahedron during his 2016 Christmas Tree Lecture at Stanford University:

We are so happy with the check. Thank you, Professor Knuth! Who would expect that our young startup would receive such a nice gift from the author of “The Art of Computer Programming”?

Sinterit is rapidly growing and is still looking for talents with programming skills.

If you would like to become one of us and work in Krakow, Poland, send your CV at [email protected]

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Maybe you have your own, truly original idea, to implement via 3D printing. Feel free to fill in this form: