Every so often, I find a quote that I think is interesting and I stick it in this page. Some of them have to do with computer science and some of them are just funny, weird, or insightful. Many of the quotes are from more-or-less ordinary people on Usenet, as opposed to people like Winston Churchill etc. (But I do have a few famous people in here. Sorry if you googled for "quotes by Winston Churchill" - you won't find them here.) Some of the quotes are from such luminaries as Lily Tomlin and Richard P. Feynman. (If you googled for "Lily Tomlin and Richard Feynman," then you're just weird.)
-- Daniel Jiménez

"Longing is never for a person or a thing. The longing is essentially for how that person or thing made you feel, so in a way you long for who you once were. But that is ironically stinging, because you can never be that person again. Time has consumed that person, and only their shadows remain within you."
-- Siddharth Mukund

"Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent."
--Calvin Coolidge

"It had flaws, but what does that matter when it comes to matters of the heart? We love what we love. Reason does not enter into it. In many ways, unwise love is the truest love. Anyone can love a thing because. That's as easy as putting a penny in your pocket. But to love something despite. To know the flaws and love them too. That is rare and pure and perfect."
-- Patrick Rothfuss - The Wise Man's Fear

"Good men are unwilling to rule, either for money's sake or for honour.... So they must be forced to consent under threat of penalty.... The heaviest penalty for declining to rule is to be ruled by someone inferior to yourself. That is the fear, I believe, that makes decent people accept power."
-- Plato, "The Republic"

"I wonder if anyone in the architecture profession has ever proclaimed "Well if you really want to change the world, empower regular people to build skyscrapers." Probably not. And yet the programming profession seems to be constantly obsessed with making the field accessible to everybody and her sister, as if programming should be something any idiot off the street can do easily."
-- user NotDrWho on Slashdot, 7/9/2014

"What if we're blind to the vastness of reality? Maybe there is life in every complex crevice. Maybe great fish swim in the sea of our language. Whole worlds in every turbulence, universes from random dust. Perhaps something sits higher than us in the perceptive hierarchy like a sphere looking down on a circle, and it uses us for something. Maybe sometimes they eat us and we don't notice."
--LiamNeesonAteMyBaby on reddit.com, 5/24/2013

"There are exceptions, but most of the programmers I know (and myself), when first exposed to computers, immediately started wondering how they worked and how we could 'make programs'. If that curiosity and interest isn't automatic and you have to be 'tricked' into it... in my opinion you'll probably be a bad programmer."
-- Slashdot user 'Anrego', June 2011

"So, if I look into my foggy crystal ball at the future of computing science education, I overwhelmingly see the depressing picture of 'Business as usual'. The universities will continue to lack the courage to teach hard science, they will continue to misguide the students, and each next stage of infantilization of the curriculum will be hailed as educational progress."
-- Edsger Dijkstra, EWD1036, December 1988.

Remember at all times that "Listening" isn't the same as "waiting for your chance to speak".
-- posted by user Nefarious Wheel on Slashdot, 9/26/08

"I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me."
-- Isaac Newton

So these processor manufacturers all have these nice new multi-core cpu's but...what's going on to get all the applications to start exploiting this? The magic parallelization fairy?

Joe Seigh in comp.arch, 10/21/2005

The concept of a "duty of truth" is a practical justification. One really should not lie (even by omission) when one owes information to someone, and they may be reasonably expected to rely upon it.

For example, I have no trouble lying to a saleman saying "I'm busy" rather than telling him "Your product is grossly overpriced, I'm insulted you think I'm so stupid as to fall for it, and I find you obnoxious." The latter may be entirely true, but it is valuable information (feedback) the saleman has not earned.
-- Robert Redelmeier on comp.arch, 8/19/2005

Kid #1: Paper beats rock. BAM! Your rock is blowed up!
Kid #2: "Bam" doesn't blow up, "bam" makes it spicy. Now I got a SPICY ROCK! You can't defeat that!
--Overheard on the 6 Train (see http://www.overheardinnewyork.com)

"When the joy of intellectual activity causes my personal hygeine and relationships with other people to suffer, it's time to make some changes in my life. It's worth giving up the great things I would otherwise discover--the books I'd write, the theorems I'd prove, the programs I'd build are just not as important as my health and loved ones."
-- Robert Jacobson on sci.math, 11/9/2004

"I certainly wouldn't expect a compiler-miracle-to-order with or without a specified time-frame. There is the advice I read recently (directed to someone reconsidering his investment in IT as a career): no matter how far you've gone down the wrong road, turn back."
-- Robery Myers on comp.arch, 9/30/2004

"One prof finally told some students one day, something to the effect of 'You're in grad school now. If you want to learn something, you know how to read, right? There are many books on the subject that are very good. If you have any questions, you can ask the professor, but in grad school, you're supposed to learn by yourself outside of the classroom.'
This was said very gently, in a matter-of-fact way, so I don't think anyone's feelings were hurt, but it was apparently still quite a shock to several students to hear these words."
-- Chan-Ho Suh on sci.math, 9/26/2004

"You are making the same mistakes EPIC's designers did. Please go learn from their failures before you try to reinvent the square wheel."
-- Stephen Sprunk on comp.arch, 6/8/2004

"One can only refute someone if they make a definite statement. If they just say 'wibble' then you can't refute (or confirm, or understand) them."
Robin Chapman on sci.math, 5/7/2004

"Jackson 'Jack the Dripper' Pollack was a talentless house painter. He was a great salesman, he knew the territory, and his value to his patrons included his early death."
-- Uncle Al on comp.theory, 4/29/2004

"Now I may be naive (it's a great combination with cynical) but I would think that if someone had a decent idea it would be pretty straightforward to get some funding."
-- Del Cecchi on comp.arch, 4/3/2004

"People that are really very weird can get into sensitive positions and have a tremendous impact on history."
-- Former U.S. Vice-President Dan Quayle

"I continue to be frustrated that Congress insists that Amtrak must be 100% self-supporting while it lavishes billions of dollars in subsidies on its competitors -- highway builders; air-traffic control, National Weather Service, and airline bail-outs; and even the Army Corps of Engineers to keep the nation's locks, dams, and coastal waterways open to barge and riverboat traffic. The game is rigged, and once again the victims are being blamed for the system's failures."
-- Richard S. Russell on RISKS-LIST, 2/26/2004

"NASA shouldn't be getting a "black eye" for ... failures, people should be saying "good try, when are you going to make another attempt at solving such a difficult problem". Stop and think for a minute about how effective you would be at debugging your project if the link between your development machine and the system under test was on another planet and the delay between inputs commensurately slow. Have fun. How would you debug hardware problems remotely if you could not have any physical contact with the machine? EVER AGAIN?"
-- Randy Howard on comp.arch, 1/26/2004

"As a document, Hennessey and Patterson is downright strange. It is the oddest mixture of serious science, mathematics and engineering, history, folklore, and marketing snippets that I have ever seen presented as the central tome of a discipline. It's more like a highly-organized scrapbook than a textbook."
-- Robert Myers on comp.arch, 1/8/2004

"Some people here may not be aware of how much of a problem it can be when someone enters a graduate program without really being ready to benefit from it the way they want to. I've heard of students who scraped their way through several years of unpromising work and lost a lot of income without getting what they were after. It really isn't just bureaucratic or just for the convenience of the department that the people deciding admissions are cautious."
-- Keith Ramsay on sci.math, 12/12/2003

"My sole axiom of war ethics (also yielding surprising results when applied to mafia/western/war, etc. movies :-): The good guys are not distinguished by their cause but by their means of achieving it."
-- Yannis Smaragdakis

"Faced with such dross as this, one's first inclination is to run screaming into the night."
-- Michael Billington of The Guardian, in his review of the musical "Money to Burn"

>"progress in software has not followed Moore's law."  -John Holland

Oh, yes, it has - in terms of the number of lines of code, the
amount of memory needed, the number of bugs and so on.
-- Nick Maclaren on comp.arch, 10/14/2003

"There's something the same about fanatic legalists in the religious groups and anal mathematicians, in that they think they've scored something if they catch you in an error. 'AHA! You've typed "slander" when you should have typed "libel"!' So what? Therefore I'm an idiot and he's a savant and now I have to erase his chalkboards for him? Hardly. I'm going to have a homebrew and hang out with the cute chicks while he re-catalogues his PowerRanger Collector's Cards."
-- Bart Goddard on sci.math, 10/6/2003

"My theory is that the problem is that writing software is too easy. Not very competent people can produce 'nearly' working solutions, which are good enough to some users... Hence lots of bad software."
-- David Gay on comp.arch, 7/11/2003

"Every engineer soon learns that, no matter what the product, there is always a customer that wants more. Almost everyone in any kind of business soon learns that 'Sorry, we can't do that,' is almost always the wrong answer. Businesses overpromise under pressure from customers, and customers go to bed at night cursing the people they have pressured into lying to them. This reality of commerce predates the electronic computer by at least as long as people have had means for quantifying promises."
-- Robert Myers on comp.arch, 7/6/2003

"Discussions like this are usually futile, because it all boils down to particular statements that are probably true, that the objector regards as being insufficiently precise or supported, and that the writer insists are precise and fully justified. And there is no way to force someone to see that a probably-true statement is insufficiently justified."
-- Tim Chow on comp.theory, 7/1/2003

> "Aircraft carrier project--a naval project with 30 million parts (a
> submarine has only 8 million parts)."
> Why would software be any harder?

Why would software be any easier? 10 million lines of code puts a program
somewhere between a 747 and the Enterprise.
-- Peter da Silva, responding to Robert Myers on comp.arch, 7/1/2003

"The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don't just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary."
-- James D. Nicoll on rec.arts.sf-lovers, 5/15/1990

"While changing the flavor can be a faulty move, sometimes the problem is simply a packaging faux pas, like the Garlic Cake made by Gunderson & Rosario back in 1989.
The product was supposed to be served as an hors d'oeuvre with breads and meats, but somehow the company forgot to mention that on the label. So consumers were left wondering what garlic cake really was and what the consequences of eating it might be."
-- seen on CNN.COM

"No matter how cynical you get, it is impossible to keep up."
-- Lily Tomlin

"When I took a course on graph theory as an undergrad, the professor gave an estimate that it is possible to write three books on basic graph theory with non-overlapping (or was it disagreeing) terminology. The moral: when discussing graph theory, don't assume that the other guy means the same thing with any of the terms."
-- Jyrki Lahtonen on sci.math, 5/13/2003

"Intelligence isn't knowledge. It's an ability to gain new knowledge quickly. If you close your doors to learning, all the intelligence in the world won't help you. And it doesn't help you at all in forums where most of the participants are above average in intelligence."
-- Randy Poe on sci.math, 4/25/2003

"If you lose your job, your marriage and your mind all in one week, try to lose your mind first, because then the other stuff won't matter that much."
-- Jack Handey

"In the mathematics I can report no deficience, except that it be that men do not sufficiently understand the excellent use of the pure mathematics, in that they do remedy and cure many defects in the wit and faculties intellectual. For if the wit be too dull, they sharpen it; if too wandering, they fix it; if too inherent in the sense, they abstract it. So that as tennis is a game of no use in itself, but of great use in respect it maketh a quick eye and a body ready to put itself into all postures; so in the mathematics, that use which is collateral and intervenient is no less worthy than that which is principal and intended."
-- Roger Bacon

"A case in point of this is microkernels. The hidden assumption the microkernel advocates (including Tannenbaum) make is that task switching is computationally cheap (for some definition of cheap). This is never stated explicitly, and it most certainly wasn't true during the famous Torvalds-Tannenbaum debate. The case that Torvalds *didn't* make way back when was 'your theory is very nice, but since task switches are *not* cheap on our CPU of choice (task switches cost 300-500 clocks each on the 386), implementing a microkernel would have prohibitive performance cost.'"
-- Brian Hurt on comp.arch, 2/3/2003

"Each generation has its few great mathematicians, and mathematics would not even notice the absence of the others. They are useful as teachers, and their research harms no one, but it is of no importance at all. A mathematician is great or he is nothing."
-- Alfred Adler

"In many ways, the state of 'computer science' vs 'the computer industry' is akin to what we have seen in automobile engines. It is hard to believe that the spark-ignited reciprocating internal combustion engine is the ultimate way to convert liquid fuels into locomotion, but the billions of dollars spent on optimizing these engines and the infrastructure that supports them makes the barriers to entry for alternative approaches very high. The same could be said for the IA32 architecture -- the massive investment in both infrastructure and optimization of implementations has made it good enough to defeat solutions that appear far superior when viewed from a non-economic 'scientific' point of view."
-- John D McCalpin on comp.arch, 1/13/2003

"Every day that our nation was segregated was a day our nation was unfaithful to our founding ideals."
-- President George W. Bush

When I was an undergraduate at MIT I loved it. I thought it was a great place, and I wanted to go to graduate school there too, of course. But when I went to Professor Slater and told him of my intentions, he said "We won't let you in here."

I said, "What?"

Slater asked, "Why do you think that you should go to graduate school at MIT?"

"Because MIT is the best school for science in the country."

"You _think_ that?"


"That's why you should go to some other school. You should find out how the rest of the world is."

. . . . I learned a lot of different things from different schools. MIT is a _very_ good place; I'm not trying to put it down. I was just in love with it. . . . It's like a New Yorker's view of New York: they forget the rest of the country. And while you don't get a good sense of proportion there, you do get an excellent sense of being _with_ it and _in_ it, and having motivation and desire to keep on --that you're specially chosen, and lucky to be there.

-- From "Surely You're Joking Mr. Feynman! _Adventures of a Curious Character_" by Richard P. Feynman.

"At the university where I studied I noticed that many people refused to do their programming assignments on the Sun workstations, preferring instead to do their assignments using Borland C++ under DOS/Windows... Curious, I asked one of them 'Why do you use queue up to use these PCs when there are Suns upstairs that are free all day ?'... Their response was 'My code SEGFAULTs all the time under UNIX, but it works with Borland. Those machines are crap.'... That was pretty much the sentiment expressed by the majority of people on that course..."
-- Rupert Pigott on comp.arch, 12/4/2002

"No one would think of installing an unfamiliar language just to speed up a bunch of routine data extraction, even if the time spent getting up to speed would be multiply repaid later. Why? Visibility and increment: if you screw up in a language you already know, it's your fault; if you screw up in a new language it's the language's fault. And something that eats your day 5 or 20 minutes at a time in edit-compile-run-curse cycles is preferable to something that eats your day with six hours of reading and learning up front."
-- Paul Wallich on comp.arch, 11/25/2002

> IA64 hasn't failed to the point of being scratched yet.

A-ha! That sounds like just what I need, let me get my checkbook.

-- Chris Morgan, responding to Sander Vesik on comp.arch, 11/21/2002

"The Intel compiler is probably the best commercially-available code generator for the x86 platform, but that's like saying 'I'm the strongest patient in the cancer ward.'"
-- Andy Isaacson on comp.arch, 11/20/2002

"Everyone is entitled to an *informed* opinion."
-- Harlan Ellison

"The denizens of [ comp.arch ] remind me of nineteenth century physicists: they had worked their relatively new field ... over so thoroughly that it was hard to imagine that there was much of anything left to discover.

The cleverness and elegance of nineteenth century physics is not to be mocked, and neither is the current state of computer science, but it would be foolish to imagine that it is in any sense complete or nearing any meaningful boundaries...

There is only the human brain to look at, the relatively simple blueprint underlying its construction, and the brain's incredible capacity to cope with things it has never seen or heard of to realize that there are some *very* basic things about computation that have not yet been discovered."
-- Robert Myers on comp.arch, 10/8/2002

"Spin is sometimes dismissed as a simple euphemism for lying. But it's actually something more insiduous: indifference to the truth."
-- Michael Kinsley

"C99... you have to worry about a standard that says strength and stromboli are reserved words."
-- Charles S. Hendrix on alt.folklore.computers, 6/13/2002

"Multithreaded code in C/C++ gives me the creeps - it's like watching neanderthal man trying to light a fire with a couple of pounds of C4 for fuel..."
Rupert Pigott on comp.arch, 5/20/2002

"Don't get me started on intuitive. You know what's intuitive? Fear of heights. Everything else we call intuitive, such as walking or using a pencil took years of practice."
-- Donald A. Norman (on user interfaces)

"Life is what happens to you while you're planning your next move."
-- Mick Jagger

"[W]hy act as though you need to take a vitamin pill every few hours or you're going to turn white and your teeth fall out by morning. That's using vitamins like religious talismans, not as gifts of science."

-- Steve Harris on sci.med

"Science does not contradict, or even concern itself with miracles. Science deals with the laws of nature, while miracles are, by definition, exceptions to those laws. Any disbelief in miracles is thus not scientific, but is based on arbitrary prejudices in conformity to popular styles of thought. Such a disbelief can reduce a person's concept of G-d to a mere abstract philosophical idea, abolishing the obligation to serve and obey Him."

-- Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan

"My favorite just-barely-polynomial problem is computing the 'convex skull': given a simple polygon in the plane, compute the largest convex subpolygon. The fastest known algorithm runs in O(n^9) time."

-- Jeff Erickson on comp.theory

"A good many times I have been present at gatherings of people who, by the standards of the traditional culture, are thought highly educated and who have with considerable gusto been expressing their incredulity at the illiteracy of scientists. Once or twice I have been provoked and have asked the company how many of them could describe the Second Law of Thermodynamics. The response was cold: it was also negative. Yet I was asking something which is about the scientific equivalent of: Have you read a work of Shakespeare's?

I now believe that if I had asked an even simpler question -- such as, What do you mean by mass, or acceleration, which is the scientific equivalent of saying, Can you read? -- not more than one in ten of the highly educated would have felt that I was speaking the same language. So the great edifice of modern physics goes up, and the majority of the cleverest people in the western world have about as much insight into it as their neolithic ancestors would have had."
-- C.P. Snow

"It is, for instance, pretty suicidal for embattled minorities to embrace Michel Foucault, let alone Jacques Derrida. The minority view was always that power could be undermined by truth ... Once you read Foucault as saying that truth is simply an effect of power, you've had it. ... But American departments of literature, history and sociology contain large numbers of self-described leftists who have confused radical doubts about objectivity with political radicalism, and are in a mess."
-- Alan Ryan

"It seems to me that CPU groups fall back to explicit parallelism when they have run out of ideas for improving uniprocessor performance. If your workload has parallelism, great; even if it doesn't currently have parallelism, sometimes occasionally it is easy to write multithreaded code than single threaded code. But, if your workload doesn't have enough natural parallelism, it is far too easy to persuade yourself that software should be rewritten to expose more parallelism... because explicit parallelism is easy to microarchitect for."
-- Andy Glew on comp.arch, 6/26/2001

"To those of you who received honors, awards and distinctions, I say well done. And to the C students, I say: You, too, can be president of the United States."
-- George W. Bush, accepting an honorary doctorate at Yale

"I found this paper to be refreshingly novel and interesting, particularly considering its in an overpublished area like branch prediction."
-- Anonymous Reviewer

"This paper describes a new branch prediction mechanism. While this usually makes people curl up in a fetal position begging 'no more', this particular mechanism is both effective, clever and practical."
-- Anonymous Reviewer

"There's a trend toward rejecting branch prediction papers just because it's such a tired topic. But it remains a huge limitation on performance and remains I think an important topic for conferences like [this one]. I think it would be a terrible shame to reject this paper just because it's on the topic of branch prediction."
-- Anonymous Reviewer

Engineer to Leslie, "Why the hell did you reverse the C++ meaning's of == and = in TLA+?"
Leslie to Engineer, "Why the hell did C++ reverse the semantics of 2000 years of mathematics?"
-- Leslie Lamport

"I'm thinking about three or four pieces from now. You know what the trouble is, don't you? It's like the weather, you can't control it. You can't say, 'I want a little bit of rain.' You get whatever the rain is. You can't say, 'I want a little bit of the sunset.' It just doesn't work that way.

Especially in the arts, things have a momentum of their own. You have more work than you want at one time and then you don't have enough work at another time. It's almost like natural phenomena. Pacing it? Pacing it is impossible.

Just when you think you have all the work you can handle, then a piece you were waiting for comes along."
-- Philip Glass

"Here is a language so far ahead of its time, that it was not only an improvement on its predecessors, but also on nearly all its successors."
-- Tony Hoare on Algol 60

"I went to my first computer conference at the New York Hilton about 20 years ago. When somebody there predicted the market for microprocessors would eventually be in the millions, someone else said, 'Where are they all going to go? It's not like you need a computer in every doorknob!'

Years later, I went back to the same hotel. I noticed the room keys had been replaced by electronic cards you slide into slots in the doors.

There was a computer in every doorknob."
-- Danny Hillis

"Generally, for major system vendors IA-64 has the advantage of not being controlled by another major systems vendor. Imagine how hard it would be to for example to get HP to use Alphas, IBM to use SPARC, Compaq to use PowerPC, or any other combination.

There is a Zen aspect to it; there is strength for Intel, when selling processors, in what they do not do. It's not just the name recognition, the performance, or the fabs."
-- Bengt Larsson, on comp.arch, 5/31/2001

"There is [a] joke, possibly apocryphal that Intel managers bragged to HP VTC managers that the Merced team has 1000 man years of experience in CPU design. An HP manager retorted that HP's PA-RISC team does too but it is with 50 engineers with 20 years experience, not 500 engineers with 2 years experience. I'd rather have a few Shakespeare's than an army of typewriter equipped monkeys."
-- Paul W. DeMone on comp.arch

"To be, or not to be: that is the question: Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing, ooh, ooh Ooh OOH EEH EEH!"
-- Monkey #2,314,746,299,328,011