just wondered how many people in here had looked at the book and wanted to know their thoughts on it. maybe mark herschberg used it at MIT? it is quite difficult i think. i would also like to hear people's strtegies for getting through it. thanks

The standard MIT algorithms book is Introduction to Algorithms, written by the MIT folks (Rivest, Cormen, and Leiserson). I read Intro to Algorithms as my first algorithms book, as recommended by Hershey in fact. It's a good book. I've only recently started TAoCP, but right away you can detect the differences in the two. I've haven't gotten far enough in TAoCP to comment on how the content of each compares to the other, but there's a definate difference in style right from the start. Intro to Algorithms is a non-nonsense book where you start learning practical information right away. TAoCP requires patience. Knuth is a perfectionist, careful to include both a formal mathematical and an human-interpretted version of each concept. There are solutions to all TAoCP problems at the back, unlike Intro to Algs. Basically, TAoCP is a dense set of books. All that's in the Appendix are tables of values and meanings of mathematical symbols -- everything else that Knuth thinks a person should know about math is gone over right in the text. You don't get to Big Oh notation until page 107.

i've had two volumes on Knuth's for more years than I care to mention. I have them for reassurance that if I ever need a very robust search or sort algorythm, I know where to find it. That said, I have been making do without the benefit of knuth's impressive work for a long time. I keep the book on the shelf just to impress people. It may be like Kant's Critic of Pure Reason, no one understands it, but it is a considerable accomplishment to have read.