Computer expert makes it easy for the rest of us


Brian Kernighan

Brian Kernighan

Brian Kernighan, a celebrity in the world of computer science, has written a new book hailed as essential reading for non-geeks. D is for Digital (selfpublished, 2011) explains computers in everyday language and is valuable to everyone from liberal arts majors to policymakers.

Kernighan is renowned in his field for his 1978 book, The C Programming Language, which was central to the spread of the C programming language. Translated into 27 languages and a classic in the field, that book, however, was written strictly for computer programmers.

With his new book, Kernighan aims to help all citizens understand more about computing so that they can form more intelligent opinions about government policies on Internet privacy and wiser decisions about what they share on social media and how they use their cell phones.

Kernighan, who earned his Ph.D. from Princeton in 1969, worked at Bell Labs for several decades and contributed to the development of Unix, a widely used computer operating system. He also is coauthor of the AWK and AMPL programming languages. Kernighan joined Princeton in 2000 as a professor of computer science.