Introduction to Algorithms, Fourth Edition
by Thomas H. Cormen, Charles E. Leiserson, Ronald L. Rivest, and Clifford Stein

The Professor Jokes

Do you wonder about the significance of the professor names sprinkled throughout Introduction to Algorithms, Fourth Edition? They are all bad jokes and puns related to the topic at hand. Here’s a handy guide that explains them all.

Page 106, Professor Caesar
Julius Caesar employed the strategy of divide-and-conquer to great effect in the Gallic Wars.

Page 122, Professor Diogenes
Diogenes of Sinope went about ancient Greece in search of an honest man. The problem is about searching for an “honest” VLSI chip.

Page 138, Professor Marceau
This one is a horrible pun. The question is about how to permute. Marcel Marceau is a famous mime. That is, he is mute. Sorry about that.

Page 138, Professor Kelp
Julius Kelp is the Nutty Professor, as played by Jerry Lewis in the original film of the same name. Professor Kelp has discovered a formula that changes his identity. The exercise is about how to permute in which the identity permutation cannot occur. This professor joke is the only one in the book in which the named professor really is a professor (albeit a fictional one).

Page 139, Professor Knievel
This exercise is about cyclic permutations, and it of course refers to Evel Knievel, the daredevil motorcycle, umm, enthusiast?

Page 139, Professor Gallup
This exercise, about random sampling, refers to the Gallup Poll.

Page 177, Professor Uriah
This exercise, about heaps, refers to the character Uriah Heep from Dickens’s David Copperfield (and also and English rock band).

Page 201, Professors Howard, Fine, and Howard
Moe Howard, Larry Fine, and Curly Howard comprised the comedy trio, The Three Stooges. Nyuk, nyuk!

Page 242, Professor Olay
The exercise asks about an oil pipeline, and the professor’s name refers to the cosmetic product Oil of Olay.

Page 243, Professor Mendel
This problem about selection refers to Gregor Mendel, who selected for characteristics when cross-breeding pea plants.

Page 282, Professor Marley
In A Christmas Carol, Ebeneezer Scrooge’s deceased partner, Jacob Marley, appears to him wrapped in chains. The exercise is about hashing with chaining.

Page 320, Professor Kilmer
The exercise asks about search trees, and Joyce Kilmer wrote the poem “Trees.”

Page 346, Professor Teach
No, this professor name has nothing to do with education. The exercise asks you to show that the sentinel’s color is always black. Edward Teach was the given name of the famed pirate “Blackbeard.”

Page 354, Professors Skelton and Baron
The solution to the exercise has to do with two red nodes in a row. The professors are Red Skelton (a comedian) and Red Baron (the World War I flying ace).

Page 393, Professor Capulet
Juliet Capulet, in the Shakespeare play Romeo and Juliet, made a hasty, suboptimal decision, which is what the exercise asks about.

Page 366, Professor Blutarsky
The problem, about planning a party, refers to the character John “Bluto” Blutarsky from the film Animal House.

Page 430, Professor Gekko
In the film Wall Street, the character Gordon Gekko utters the memorable lines “Greed—for lack of a better word—is good. Greed is right. Greed works.”

Page 446, Professor Croesus
This exercise refers to King Croesus of Lydia, whose greed was legendary.

Page 512, Professor Bunyan
In an exercise about trees with the minimum possible height, we refer to the mythical lumberjack Paul Bunyan.

Page 527, Professor Gompers
Samuel Gompers was an early union organizer, and the question is about disjoint-set union.

Page 541, Professor Dante
Dante wrote about the levels of Hell, and this exercise asks about the levels of nodes.

Pages 573–574, Professor Bumstead
Another bad pun: Dagwood Bumstead is a comic-strip character, and the example is about a dag.

Page 580, Professor Bacon
The exercise is on strongly connected components, and we all know about the “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.”

Page 590, Professor Sabatier
This exercise is about cuts in graphs, and Sabatier is a maker of fine knives.

Page 637, Professor Borden
Lizzie Borden was accused of murdering her father and stepmother on Fall River, Massachusetts in 1892 with a hatchet:
Lizzie Borden took an axe
And gave her mother forty whacks.
When she saw what she had done
She gave her father forty-one.
Although Borden was acquitted, her trial received a huge amount of publicity.

Page 625, Professor Gaedel
Eddie Gaedel was a 43-inch (109 cm) tall adult who played major league baseball. He signed with the St. Louis Browns in 1951 as a publicity stunt. He made one plate appearance and, not surprisingly, walked on four pitches. The team then sent in a pinch runner for him. That was his only major league appearance. Given that he never played minor league baseball, you could say that, in two ways, he took the shortest path to the majors.

Page 625, Professor Newman
Randy Newman wrote the song “Short People.”

Page 667, Professor Greenstreet
This exercise is about reweighting, and Sidney Greenstreet played “The Fat Man” in the film The Maltese Falcon.

Page 667, Professor Michener
Yet another literary reference. The exercise asks about a source vertex. James Michener wrote the novel The Source.

Page 675, Professor Adam
In the Bible, Adam’s sons, Cain and Abel, really did not get along.

Page 698, Professor Fieri
This is a reference to TV host Guy Fieri on the Food Network.

Page 739, Professor Hrabosky
Major-league pitcher Al Hrabosky was known as “The Mad Hungarian.”

Page 770, Professor Karan
Fashion designer Donna Karan has designed a few threads in her time.

Page 801, Professor Carnac
This exercise about foreseeing refers to an old gag on “The Tonight Show” back when Johnny Carson hosted. He would play the seer “Carnac the Magnificent.” His sidekick, Ed McMahon, would hand Carnac a “hermetically” sealed envelope with an unknown question inside. Carnac would hold the envelope to his forehead and “guess” the answer to the unknown question. McMahon would repeat the guessed answer. Carnac would then open the envelope to reveal and read aloud the question, which would finish the joke. In one example, the answer was “Infidel.” The question: “Where’s Castro’s liver?”

Page 910, Professor Marshall
Peter Marshall hosted the TV game show “Hollywood Squares” in which “celebrities” (some of whom seemed to be celebrities just for being on TV game shows) were configured as a giant 3 × 3 tic-tac-toe board. The squares around the celebrities would light up.

Page 995, Professor Markram
We chose South African cricketer Aiden Markram for this exercise because his last name is a palindrome.

Page 1072, Professor Sartre
The exercise asks about the existence of an algorithm, and of course Jean-Paul Sartre was a famous existentialist.

Page 1080, Professor Jagger
The exercise is about the satisfiability problem, and Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones sang, “I can’t get no satisfaction.”

Page 1161, Professor Narcissus
In Greek mythology, Narcissus was in love with himself. The exercise asks about reflexive relations.

Pages 1190 and 1202, Professors Rosencrantz and Guildenstern
In Tom Stoppard’s play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, the play begins with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern flipping a coin only to discover that heads are produced consecutively.

Page 1190, Professor Gore
Al Gore rhythm.