Programming Quotes

Adam Pope recently wrote about Classic Programming Quotes. This reminded me that I’ve collected quotes on this page for several years. Lambda the Ultimate also has a quotes section.

Here are some of my favourites:

If one character, one pause, of the incantation is not strictly in proper form, the magic doesn’t work. Human beings are not accustomed to being perfect, and few areas of human activity demand it. Adjustment to the requirement for perfection is, I think, the most difficult part of learning to program. (Frederick Brooks)

You think you know when you learn, are more sure when you can write, even more when you can teach, but certain when you can program. (Alan Perlis)

Increasingly, people seem to misinterpret complexity as sophistication, which is baffling – the incomprehensible should cause suspicion rather than admiration. 
(Niklaus Wirth)

APL is a write-only language. I can write programs in APL, but I can’t read any of them. (Roy Keir)

What is the sound of Perl? Is it not the sound of a wall that people have stopped banging their heads against? (Larry Wall)

Beware of bugs in the above code; I have only proved it correct, not tried it. 
(Donald Knuth)

Any code of your own that you haven’t looked at for six or more months, might as well have been written by someone else. (Eagleson is an optimist, the real number is more like three weeks.)

Niklaus Wirth has lamented that, whereas Europeans pronounce his name correctly (Ni-klows Virt), Americans invariably mangle it into (Nick-les Worth). Which is to say that Europeans call him by name, but Americans call him by value.

Real programmers don’t comment their code. It was hard to write, it should be hard to understand.

A LISP programmer knows the value of everything, but the cost of nothing.

Old programmers never die. They just branch to a new address.

Debugging is twice as hard as writing the code in the first place. Therefore, if you write the code as cleverly as possible, you are, by definition, not smart enough to debug it. (Kernighan)

I saw `cout’ being shifted “Hello world” times to the left and stopped right there. (Steve Gonedes)

Programming is understanding. (Kristen Nygaard)

Computing Science is no more about computers than astronomy is about telescopes. (Edsger Dijkstra)

2 Responses to “Programming Quotes”

  1. damoun Says:

    Hi David;

    Not sure you have heard this one, I am not sure where I have read it, googling it doesn’t seem to suggest a reliable source either.

    “I would rather write programs that help me write programs than write programs.” (anonymous)

  2. dbenn Says:

    Hi damoun

    Yes, I’ve seen/heard something similar, more like: “I would rather write a program that writes a program than write a program.” 🙂 I can’t provide a source either.


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