One of my heroes in Jon Bentley. If you don’t know who he is, this post is for you. If you do know who he is, this post is also for you. Bentley is one of the original Bell Labs researchers from the Lab’s golden age. Many of you will know him through his Communications of the ACM Programming Pearls columns and the three books that recapitulated those columns.
Bentley is a guy who is vitally concerned with algorithms and how to optimize them. If you haven’t read Programming Pearls and the two sequels, you’re really missing out. I can’t emphasize enough how influential these books were on my development as a programmer. If you haven’t read them, you need to do so immediately. Really.
Bentley recently gave a talk at Google in which he attempts to answer the question “What is the most beautiful code you’ve ever written?” Being Bentley, the answer is not simply X but rather a careful and extensive exposition of his reimplementation of the quicksort algorithm. Nothing I could say can begin to give justice to this talk. It is, really, a distillation of what makes Bentley Bentley. You really MUST watch this video. Believe me, you won’t be sorry. This is a great talk and you WILL learn a lot.