Brian Kernighan

Updated: 09/15/2017 by Computer Hope

Brian KernighanName: Brian Wilson Kernighan

Born: 1942 in Toronto, Canada

Computer-related contributions

  • Canadian computer scientist who coined the term Unix in the 1970s. The original term he coined was Unics (for Uniplexed Information and Computing Service, a play on Multics), which was later changed to Unix.
  • Worked at Bell Labs alongside Unix creators Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie and contributed to the development of Unix. He is also coauthor of the AWK and AMPL programming languages. The 'K' of K&R C and the 'K' in AWK both stand for 'Kernighan'.

Significant publications

  • Software Tools (1976 with PJ Plauger).
  • Software Tools in Pascal (1981 with PJ Plauger).
  • The C Programming Language ('K&R') (1978, 1988 with Dennis M. Ritchie).
  • The Elements of Programming Style (1974, 1978 with PJ Plauger).
  • The Unix Programming Environment (1984 with Rob Pike).
  • The AWK Programming Language (1988 with Al Aho and Peter J. Weinberger).
  • The Practice of Programming (1999 with Rob Pike).
  • AMPL: A Modeling Language for Mathematical Programming, 2nd Ed. (2003 with Robert Fourer and David Gay).
  • D is for Digital: What a well-informed person should know about computers and communications (2011).


"Debugging is twice as hard as writing the code in the first place. Therefore, if you write the code as cleverly as possible, you are, by definition, not smart enough to debug it."

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