My Favorite Quotes


I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.
             -- Ralph W. Emerson


I hear and forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.
             -- Chinese Proverb


A person who can, within a year, solve x2 - 92y2 = 1 is a mathematician.
             -- Brahmagupta (Indian Mathematician, 598 AD - 670 AD)
                   


Equality is at once the most natural and the most chimerical thing in the world: natural when it is limited to rights, unnatural when it attempts to level goods and powers. Not all citizens can be equally strong; but they can all be equally free.
             -- Voltaire (Dictionnaire philosophique)
                   


Hence the uselessness of logic: no one ever convinced anybody by logic; and even logicians use logic only as a source of income. To convince a man, you must appeal to his self-interest, his desires, his will.
             -- Arthur Schopenhauer (The World as Will and Idea)
                   


That is whole, this is also whole, the whole or fullness originates again from the whole; if one takes away the whole out of whole only the whole remains.
             -- Shukla Yajurveda (Indian Text, 1400 - 1000 BCE)
                   


As the sun eclipses the stars by its brilliancy, so the man of knowledge will eclipse the fame of others in assemblies of the people if he proposes algebraic problems, and still more if he solves them.
             -- Brahmagupta (Indian Mathematician, 598 AD - 670 AD)
                    (Quoted in F Cajori, A History of Mathematics)


The problem with "What You See Is What You Get" is that what you see is all you've got.
             -- Brian Kernighan


I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.
             -- Ecclesiastes


But in fact the opposition of instinct and reason is mainly illlusory. Instinct, intuition, or insight is what first leads to the beliefs which subsequent reason conforms or confutes; but the confirmation, where it is possible, consists, in the last analysis, of agreement with other beliefs no less instinctive. .... Even in the most purely logical realm, it is insight that first arrives at what is new.              -- Bertrand Russell (Mysticism and Logic)


The difficulty lies, not in the new ideas, but in escaping the old ones, which ramify, for those brought up as most of us have been, into every corner of our minds.

             -- John Maynard Keynes


When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in 7 years.
             -- Mark Twain


The unavoidable price of reliability is simplicity
             -- C.A.R. Hoare


As far as laws refer to reality they are not certain and as far as they are certain they do not refer to reality.
             -- A. Einstein.


Either you believe in the law of excluded middle or you don't.


Two roads diverged in a wood, and
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
             -- Robert Frost
                    (From the poem: The Road not Taken)


Elegance [in programming] is not optional.              -- Richard A. O'Keefe


Big shots are little shots who keep shooting.


Genius is only the power of making continuous effort.


Genius is one percent inspiration, and ninety-nine percent perspiration.              -- Thomas A. Edison


Every science begins with the observation of striking events like thunderstorms or fevers, and soon establishes rough connections between them and other events, such as hot weather or infection. The next stage is a stage of exact observation and measurement, and it is often very difficult to know what we should measure in order to best explain the events we are investigating. In the case of both thunder- storms and fevers the clue came from measuring the lengths of mercury columns in glass tubes, but what prophet could have predicted this? Then comes a stage of innumerable graphs and tables of figures, the dispair of students, the laughing-stock of the man in the street. And out of this intellectual mess there sudden crystallizes a new and easily grasped idea, the idea of a cyclone or an electron, a bacillus or an antitoxin, and everybody wonders why it had not been thought of before.
             -- The Future of Biology
                   J.B.S. Haldane


The bigger the real-life problems, the greater the tendency for the discipline to retreat into a reassuring fantasy-land of abstract theory and technical manipulation.
                   -Tom Naylor


A genuine first-hand religious experience ... is bound to be a heterodoxy to its witnesses, the prophet appearing as a mere lonely madman. If his doctrine prove contagious enough to spread to any others, it becomes a definite and labeled heresy. But if it then still prove contagious enough to triumph over persecution, it becomes itself an orthodoxy; and when a religion has become an orthodoxy, its day of inwardness is over: the spring is dry; the faithful live at second hand exclusively and stone the prophets in their turn.
             -- The Varieties of Religious Experience
                   William James


For a successful technology, reality must take prededence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled.
             -- Report on the Challenger Disaster.
                   Richard P. Feynman,


This leads to the paradox that the more original a discovery the more obvious it seems afterwords. The creative act is not an act of creation in the sense of the Old Testament. It does not create something out of nothing; it uncovers, selects, re-shuffles, combines, synthesizes already existing facts, faculties, skills. The more familiar the parts, the more striking the new whole.
             -- Koestler


Excellent work is the product of EXCESSIVE revision.


   First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out - because I was not a Jew.
   Then they came for the communists and I did not speak out - because I was not a communist.
   Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out - because I was not a trade unionist.
   Then they came for me - and by then there was no one left to speak out for me.

                   -- Pastor Martin Niemöller


Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all his sentences short, or that he avoid all detail and treat his subjects only in outline, but that ever word tell.
             -- The Elements of Style
                   W. Strunk and E.B. White


If you can see the bandwagon, it is already too late.
             --Warren Buffet


Engineer is a man who can do for a dime what any fool can do for a dollar.
             --Anonymous


Imagination is more important than knowledge.
             -- Einstein


What sculpture is to a block of marble, education is to the human soul.
             -- J. Addison


I have often pondered over the roles of knowledge or experience, on the one hand, and imagination or intuition, on the other, in the process of discovery. I believe that there is a certain fundamental conflict between the two, and knowledge, by advocating caution, tends to inhibit the flight of imagination. Therefore, a certain naivete, unburdened by conventional wisdom, can sometimes be a positive asset.
             -- Harish Chandra (Mathematician)
                   Quoted in R Langlands, Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society 31 (1985) 197 - 225.


If I find 10,000 ways something won't work, I haven't failed. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward
             -- Thomas Edison (but see the next quote)


His [Edison's] method was inefficient in the extreme, for an immense ground had to be covered to get anything at all unless blind chance intervened and, at first, I was almost a sorry witness of his doings, knowing that just a little theory and calculation would have saved him 90% of the labor. But he had a veritable contempt for book learning and mathematical knowledge, trusting himself entirely to his inventor's instinct and practical american sense.
             -- Nikola Tesla (referring to Edison; singificant mutual personal enmity existing between the two)


Ultimately one has to teach oneself.
             -- David Plaisted


If we knew the future, it will be here now.
             -- Frank Harary


Past performance is no guarantee of future results.
             -- Statement found on most financial literature


If you want to get something done, find a busy man.


Confidence is knowing what to do when things go wrong.


The three most important things in programming: notation, notation, notation.
            (with apologies to all real estate agents)