Quotations


... It is not even wrong.
-- Wolfgang Pauli, reacting to a paper

Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.
-- anonymous

One of the chief inhibitions to human progress arises because of the extreme slowness with which the advances in knowledge become translated into action for the benefit of society as a whole. There is no step more important for the removal of that inhibition than that of providing for intimate contact between the leaders in the fields of pure and applied science.
-- Robert A. Millikan

The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.
-- Albert Einstein

There's no sense in being precise about something when you don't even know what you're talking about.
-- John von Neumann

Simplicity is the final achievement.
-- Frederic Chopin

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius---and a lot of courage---to move in the opposite direction.
-- E. F. Schumacker

If things seem under control, you are just not going fast enough.
-- Mario Andretti

You miss 100% of the shots you don't take.
-- Wayne Gretsky

It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.
-- Theodore Roosevelt

Good design comes from experience. Experience comes from bad design.
-- anonymous

The purpose of computing is insight, not numbers.
-- R.W. Hamming

In the field of observation, chance favors only the prepared mind.
-- Louis Pasteur

The scientist describes what is; the engineer creates what never was.
-- Theodore Von Kármán

A reasonable man adapts himself to suit his environment. An unreasonable man persists in attempting to adapt his environment to suit himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.
-- George Bernard Shaw

Generalizations are generally wrong.
-- Butler Lampson

Beware of the man who won't be bothered with details.
-- William Feather

If you torture the data enough, it will confess.
-- Ronald Coase

Less is more.
-- Mies van der Rohe

Out of intense complexities intense simplicities emerge.
-- Winston Churchill

An important scientific innovation rarely makes its way by gradually winning over and converting its opponents: it rarely happens that Saul becomes Paul. What does happen is that its opponents gradually die out and that the growing generation is familiarized with the idea from the beginning.
-- Max Planck

Many undergraduates come to Caltech simply to enjoy the social life.
-- Steve Taylor

In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. But, in practice, there is.
-- Jan L.A. van de Snepscheut(?)

Research is what I'm doing when I don't know what I'm doing.
-- Wernher von Braun

Work for something because it is good, not just because it stands a chance to succeed.
-- Vaclav Havel

If 50 million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing.
-- Anatole France

In anything at all, perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add, but when there is no longer anything to take away.
-- Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Man will occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of the time he will pick himself up and continue.
-- Winston Churchill

Brilliance is typically the act of an individual, but incredible stupidity can usually be traced to an organization.
-- Jon Bentley

When you argue with a fool, chances are he is doing just the same.
-- anonymous

Mathematics in general is fundamentally the science of self-evident things.
-- F. Klein

Engineers think that theory approximates reality. Physicists think that reality approximates theory. Mathematicians never make the connection.
-- anonymous

For many years it was believed that countless monkeys working on countless typewriters would eventually reproduce the genius of Shakespeare. Now, thanks to the World Wide Web, we know this to be false.
-- anonymous

Einstein was a genius: Head in the clouds, feet on the ground. But those of us who are not as tall, have to make a choice.
-- Richard Feynman

I am not interested in what todays' mathematicians find interesting.
-- Richard Feynman, in a letter to John Wheeler

The man who does not read good books is at no advantage over the man that can't read them.
-- Mark Twain

Lies, damn lies, and statistics.
-- Mark Twain

Let us be thankful for the fools. But for them the rest of us could not succeed.
-- Mark Twain

Hello. I'm Rob's answering machine. What are you?
-- anonymous

Utility is when you have one telephone, luxury is when you have two, opulence is when you have three . . . and paradise is when you have none.
-- Doug Larson

Last night as I went up the stair
I met a man who wasn't there.
He wasn't there again today
I wish to God he'd go away.
-- anonymous

It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.
-- Antoine de Saint-Exupery

In science, "fact" can only mean "confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional assent." I suppose that apples might start to rise tomorrow, but the possibility does not merit equal time in physics classrooms.
-- Stephen Jay Gould

A mathematician is a machine for turning coffee into theorems.
-- Paul Erdös

Pray that there's intelligent life somewhere out in space, because there's bugger all down here on earth.
-- Monty Python


If an algorithm is going to fail, it should have the decency to quit soon.
-- Gene Golub

Computers are useless. They can only give you answers.
-- Pablo Picasso

A distributed system is one in which the failure of a computer you didn't even know existed can render your own computer unusable.
-- Leslie Lamport

The question of whether a computer can think is no more interesting than the question of whether a submarine can swim.
-- E. W. Dijkstra

Computer Science is no more about computers than astronomy is about telescopes.
-- E. W. Dijkstra

Save a tree. Disband an ISO working group today.
-- anonymous

. . . Meanwhile, those of us who can compute can hardly be expected to keep writing papers saying 'I can do the following useless calculation in two seconds', and indeed what editor would publish them?
-- Oliver Atkin

Those who can, do. Those who can't, simulate.
-- anonymous

The problem with engineers is that they tend to cheat in order to get results.
The problem with mathematicians is that they tend to work on toy problems in order to get results.
The problem with program verifiers is that they tend to cheat at toy problems in order to get results.
-- anonymous

At first I hoped that such a technically unsound project would collapse but I soon realized it was doomed to success. Almost anything in software can be implemented, sold, and even used given enough determination. There is nothing a mere scientist can say that will stand against the flood of a hundred million dollars. But there is one quality that cannot be purchased in this way---and that is reliability. The price of reliability is the pursuit of the utmost simplicity. It is a price which the very rich find most hard to pay.
-- C.A.R. Hoare in The Emperor's Old Clothes, Turing Award Lecture (27 October 1980)

There are two ways of constructing a software design: One way is to make it so simple that there are obviously no deficiencies, and the other way is to make it so complicated that there are no obvious deficiencies.
-- C. A. R. Hoare

Real programmers can write assembly code in any language.
-- Larry Wall

Real Users never know what they want, but they always know when your program doesn't deliver it.
-- anonymous

Syntactic sugar causes cancer of the semicolon.
-- Alan Perlis

When we write programs that "learn," it turns out that we do and they don't.
-- Alan Perlis

In the early chapters, try to get as much finger practice as you can. Remember that the slowest link in the APL system is you, the user. You are limited by the speed with which you can enter information via the keyboard.
-- APL, An Interactive Approach by Leonard Gilman and Allen J. Rose


I want electricity to become so cheap that only the rich can afford candles.
-- T. Edison

Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons.
-- Popular Mechanics, forecasting the relentless march of science, 1949.

I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.
-- Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943.

I have traveled the length and breadth of this country and talked with the best people, and I can assure you that data processing is a fad that won't last out the year.
-- The editor in charge of business books for Prentice Hall, 1957.

But . . . what is it good for?
-- Engineer at the Advanced Computing Systems Division of IBM, 1968, commenting on the microchip.

There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.
-- Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977.

Some programming languages manage to absorb change, but withstand progress. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982

 
  
Yale