Topics Discussed: UNIX early days, Unix philosophy, Is programming art or science?, AWK, Programming setup, History of programming languages, C programming language, Go language, Learning new programming languages, Javascript, Variety of programming languages, AMPL, Graph theory, AI in 1964, Future of AI, Moore’s law, Computers in our world, Life.

Brian Kernighan Thumbnail

Brian Kernighan

Brian Kernighan is is a Canadian computer scientist. He worked at Bell Labs and contributed to the development of Unix alongside Unix creators Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie. Kernighan's name became widely known through co-authorship of the first book on the C programming language (The C Programming Language) with Dennis Ritchie. Kernighan affirmed that he had no part in the design of the C language ("it's entirely Dennis Ritchie's work"). He authored many Unix programs, including ditroff. Kernighan is coauthor of the AWK and AMPL programming languages. The "K" of K&R C and of AWK both stand for "Kernighan".

Books Mentioned in this Podcast with Lex Fridman & Brian Kernighan:

A Deep Dive into Brian Kernighan's Legacy

Brian Kernighan, a renowned figure in the world of computer science, sat down with Lex Fridman for an insightful conversation. This discussion, featured in the Lex Fridman Podcast #109, delved into Brian's significant contributions, his associations with other notable figures in the computer science realm, and his numerous influential writings.

Brian Kernighan's Contributions to UNIX and C

Brian Kernighan's role in the early UNIX days is truly iconic. He was not just a bystander but a key contributor who worked closely with UNIX creators Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie. His collaboration with Dennis Ritchie led to the co-authorship of the C programming language, which is still widely regarded as one of the most influential programming languages today.

Brian's Association with Other Key Figures in Computer Science

Throughout his illustrious career, Brian Kernighan has had the privilege to work with some of the brightest minds in computer science. His association with the likes of Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie has cemented his place in the annals of computer science history. Their collaborative efforts have shaped the trajectory of modern computing.

Brian's Books and Writings

Brian Kernighan is not just known for his technical prowess but also his ability to communicate complex ideas with clarity. He has authored several books on programming, computers, and life, including titles like 'The Practice of Programming' and 'The Go Programming Language'. His recent work, 'UNIX: A History and a Memoir', provides a deep dive into the evolution and impact of UNIX.


Brian Kernighan's conversation with Lex Fridman serves as a testament to his enduring legacy in computer science. His contributions, associations, and writings continue to inspire generations of programmers and tech enthusiasts. This podcast episode is a must-listen for anyone interested in the history and future of computing.