I see many references to a paper by Andrew Tanenbaum that demonstrated the vast majority of constants would fit into 13-bits, and I seem to recall it being in my university text on CPU design. However, I can't find a reference to it. Does anyone have a pointer?

  • 2
    Looking at a few Google references to this. It seems like everybody knows somebody who thinks Tanembaum wrote it, but nobody has ever seen the original document :)
    – alephzero
    Commented Jun 17, 2019 at 12:22
  • Maybe this list would provide some help.
    – DroidW
    Commented Jun 17, 2019 at 12:40
  • For the record, I wrote to Andy and he sent me a much better copy of the paper. :-) Commented Jun 18, 2019 at 11:50

1 Answer 1


Andrew Tanenbaum wrote two papers about operand encoding, instruction sizes, and the representations of structured programming constructs, which sounds like what you’re looking for: Implications of structured programming for machine architecture (Communications of the ACM, March 1978) and Efficient encoding of machine instructions (ACM SIGARCH Computer Architecture News, June 1979).

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