An extremely powerful macro-based text formatter written by
Donald E. Knuth, very popular in the computer-science
community (it is good enough to have displaced Unix troff, the
other favored formatter, even at many Unix installations). TeX
fans insist on the correct (guttural) pronunciation, and the
correct spelling (all caps, squished together, with the E depressed
below the baseline; the mixed-case `TeX' is considered an
acceptable kluge on ASCII-only devices). Fans like to proliferate
names from the word `TeX' -- such as TeXnician (TeX
user), TeXhacker (TeX programmer), TeXmaster (competent
TeX programmer), TeXhax, and TeXnique. See also
Knuth began TeX because he had become annoyed at the declining
quality of the typesetting in volumes I-III of his monumental
"Art of Computer Programming" (see Knuth, also
bible). In a manifestation of the typical hackish urge to
solve the problem at hand once and for all, he began to design his
own typesetting language. He thought he would finish it on his
sabbatical in 1978; he was wrong by only about 8 years. The
language was finally frozen around 1985, but volume IV of "The
Art of Computer Programming" is not expected to appear until 2002.
The impact and influence of TeX's design has been such that
nobody minds this very much. Many grand hackish projects have
started as a bit of toolsmithing on the way to something else;
Knuth's diversion was simply on a grander scale than most.
TeX has also been a noteworthy example of free, shared, but
high-quality software. Knuth offers a monetary awards to anyone
who found and reported bugs dating from before the 1989 code
freeze; as the years wore on and the few remaining bugs were fixed
(and new ones even harder to find), the bribe went up. Though
well-written, TeX is so large (and so full of cutting edge
technique) that it is said to have unearthed at least one bug in
every Pascal system it has been compiled with.
brute force adj.
Describes a primitive programming style
one in which the programmer relies on the computer's processing
power instead of using his or her own intelligence to simplify the
problem, often ignoring problems of scale and applying naive
methods suited to small problems directly to large ones....