Sorry if this isn't the right forum but I'm looking for what a lead or manager might look for. This summer I'm interning at a small start up: there's less than five coders currently but they are all very experienced. My dad is one of those coders. Would it be inappropriate or even harmful to me if I put him on my resume as a reference in the future? Does it make a difference if, say, my dad is the author of one of the top 5 most influential CS books? Or would that be cheating?

Cheating? Not at all. Anything you can do (except perhaps an outright lie) to get the prospective employer's attention is fair game. My dad is also in IT and I used him as a professional reference for years.

Of course, I told him I was going to, and got his permission first. :)

Some companies on their "Employment Application" ask for NON-RELATED references, but on your resume it's fine.

My $.02 worth.

You don't put references on your resume anyway.

Rashakil: I meant more in the sense of in an interview, should I mention that the company I worked for was headed by so-and-so, the same guy who wrote Design Patterns?

Here's how I imagine such a conversation going.

Zani: Guess what, the company I worked for was headed by the guy who wrote Design Patterns.

Interviewer: What do you mean? That book had four authors.

Okay let's rewind.

Zani: Guess what, the company I worked for was headed by one of the guys who wrote Design Patterns.

Interviewer: That book is terrible, half the "design patterns" are reiterations of the same idea. Why would you tell me this?

Okay, suppose your employer was some guy who wrote an actual highly-respected book.

Zani: Guess what, I worked for one of the guys who wrote Highly-Respected CS Book.

Interviewer: So?

Now let's say you get a job offer and you accept, and you need to supply three references.

Well, you don't want one of them to be your father, because that seems weird and he'd be obviously biased, why couldn't you pick any other person you've worked with?

Now if I was hiring an intern and it was his first internship and his dad was like, Knuth, and we knew him and were like, "yo, is your son smart?" and he was like "yeah man," then we'd... not care at all. Because we'd already know his son was smart because we interviewed him, we asked him interview questions that had him showing us that he can actually code.

References are there so that your employer who's hiring you knows that you're capable of showing up to work, not being an insufferable sociopath, and that you haven't fabricated your employment history. They're not useful for getting an opinion about how good a person is (generally) because you'd have to trust the reference's ability to gauge a person's ability, and because there's already a way to show the potential employee's actual ability: with code they've already written and whiteboard problems they can do.