All Programming Quotes

Programming Quote


I am going to a commune in Vermont and will deal with no unit of time shorter than a season.
Resignation Notice from a Data General engineer. The Soul of a New Machine

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
Leonardo da Vinci

First, solve the problem. Then, write the code.
John Johnson

I think Microsoft named .Net so it wouldn’t show up in a Unix directory listing.

You should name a variable using the same care with which you name a first-born child.
Robert C Martin

Never trust a computer you can’t throw out a window.
Steve Wozniak

Wise man does not keep sledge hammer and slow computer in same room.
Not really Konfuzius

It would appear that we have reached the limits of what it is possible to achieve with computer technology, although one should be careful with such statements, as they tend to sound pretty silly in 5 years.
John Von Neumann, circa 1949

I’ve finally learned what ‘upward compatible’ means. It means we get to keep all our old mistakes.
Dennie van Tassel

Give a man a program, frustrate him for a day.
Teach a man to program, frustrate him for a lifetime.
Waseem Latif

Randall Munroe

A computer lets you make more mistakes faster than any invention in human history–with the possible exceptions of handguns and tequila.
Mitch Radcliffe

The key, the whole key, and nothing but the key, so help me Codd
Slogan for database-normalization

The first 90% of the code accounts for the first 90% of the development time. The remaining 10% of the code accounts for the other 90% of the development time.
Tom Cargil

Simplicity is hard to build, easy to use, and hard to charge for. Complexity is easy to build, hard to use, and easy to charge for.
Chris Sacca

The best thing about a boolean is even if you are wrong, you are only off by a bit.

They don’t make bugs like Bunny anymore.
Olav Mjelde

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, 1980 ACM Turing Award Lecture

Windows NT addresses 2 Gigabytes of RAM, which is more than any application will ever need.
Microsoft, on the development of Windows NT, 1992

The trick is to fix the problem you have, rather than the problem you want.
Bram Cohen

A blurry cellphone photo of an error on the screen, imported to the computer via emailing it to themselves, pasted sideways into a word document and emailed to the helpdesk address.

Beauty is more important in computing than anywhere else in technology because software is so complicated. Beauty is the ultimate defence against complexity.
David Gelernter

A program that produces incorrect results twice as fast is infinitely slower.
John Osterhout

Programming is like kicking yourself in the face, sooner or later your nose will bleed.
Kyle Woodbury

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’s law

Normal people believe that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Engineers believe that if it ain’t broke, it doesn’t have enough features yet.
Scott Adams

The computer programmer is a creator of universes for which he alone is the lawgiver. No playwright, no stage director, no emperor, however powerful, has ever exercised such absolute authority to arrange a stage or field of battle and to command such unswervingly dutiful actors or troops.
Joseph Weizenbaum

In the one and only true way. The object-oriented version of ‚Spaghetti code‘ is, of course, ‚Lasagna code‘. (Too many layers).
Roberto Waltman

I feel very comfortable talking in nanoseconds. I sit at one of these analyzers and nanoseconds are wide. I mean, you can see them go by. “Jesus,” I say, “that signal takes twelve nanoseconds to get from there to there.” Those are real big things to me when I’m building a computer. Yet when I think about it, how much longer it takes to snap your fingers, I’ve lost track of what a nanosecond really means.” He paused. “Time in a computer is an interesting concept.”
The Soul of a New Machine

If I were forced to sum up in one sentence what the Copenhagen interpretation says to me, it would be ‚Shut up and calculate!‘.
Davif Mermin

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

The most disastrous thing that you can ever learn is your first programming language.
Alan Kay

I have found that the reason a lot of people are interested in artificial intelligence is the same reason a lot of people are interested in artificial limbs: they are missing one.
David Parnas

Mostly, when you see programmers, they aren’t doing anything. One of the attractive things about programmers is that you cannot tell whether or not they are working simply by looking at them. Very often they’re sitting there seemingly drinking coffee and gossiping, or just staring into space. What the programmer is trying to do is get a handle on all the individual and unrelated ideas that are scampering around in his head.
Charles M. Strauss

The most effective debugging tool is still careful thought, coupled with judiciously placed print statements.
Brian W. Kernighan

The competent programmer is fully aware of the limited size of his own skull. He therefore approaches his task with full humility, and avoids clever tricks like the plague.
Edsger W. Dijkstra

Measuring programming progress by lines of code is like measuring aircraft building progress by weight.
Bill Gates

Well, Mr. Frankel, who started this program, began to suffer from the computer disease that anybody who works with computers now knows about. It’s a very serious disease and it interferes completely with the work. The trouble with computers is you *play* with them. They are so wonderful. You have these switches – if it’s an even number you do this, if it’s an odd number you do that – and pretty soon you can do more and more elaborate things if you are clever enough, on one machine.

After a while the whole system broke down. Frankel wasn’t paying any attention; he wasn’t supervising anybody. The system was going very, very slowly – while he was sitting in a room figuring out how to make one tabulator automatically print arc-tangent X, and then it would start and it would print columns and then bitsi, bitsi, bitsi, and calculate the arc-tangent automatically by integrating as it went along and make a whole table in one operation.

Absolutely useless. We *had* tables of arc-tangents. But if you’ve ever worked with computers, you understand the disease – the *delight* in being able to see how much you can do. But he got the disease for the first time, the poor fellow who invented the thing.
Richard Feynman, Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!: Adventures of a Curious Character

A language that doesn’t affect the way you think about programming is not worth knowing.
Alan Perlis

I don’t care if it works on your machine! We are not shipping your machine!
Vidiu Platon

Computer science education cannot make anybody an expert programmer any more than studying brushes and pigment can make somebody an expert painter.
Eric S. Raymond

Documentation is like term insurance: It satisfies because almost no one who subscribes to it depends on its benefits.
Alan J Perlis

Hardware: The parts of a computer system that can be kicked.
Jeff Pesis

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

Tzu-li and Tzu-ssu were boasting about the size of their latest programs. ‘Two-hundred thousand lines,’ said Tzu-li, ‘not counting comments!’ Tzu-ssu responded, ‘Pssh, mine is almost a million lines already.’ Master Yuan-Ma said, ‘My best program has five hundred lines.’ Hearing this, Tzu-li and Tzu-ssu were enlightened.
Master Yuan-Ma, The Book of Programming

So much complexity in software comes from trying to make one thing do two things.
Ryan Singer

It is easier to port a shell than a shell script.
Larry Wall

I am rarely happier than when spending an entire day programming my computer to perform automatically a task that would otherwise take me a good ten seconds to do by hand.
Douglas Adams, Last Chance to See

Any fool can use a computer. Many do.
Ted Nelson

As soon as we started programming, we found to our surprise that it wasn’t as easy to get programs right as we had thought. Debugging had to be discovered. I can remember the exact instant when I realized that a large part of my life from then on was going to be spent in finding mistakes in my own programs.
Maurice Wilkes discovers debugging

Most software today is very much like an Egyptian pyramid with millions of bricks piled on top of each other, with no structural integrity, but just done by brute force and thousands of slaves.
Alan Kay

Adatran, Ada spoken with a heavy accent of FORTRAN.
Kevlin Henney

One of my most productive days was throwing away 1000 lines of code.
Ken Thompson

In software systems it is often the early bird that makes the worm.
Alan J Perlis

Any politician caught spouting off about back doors is unfit for office anywhere but Hogwarts, which is also the only educational institution whose computer science department believes in “golden keys” that only let the right sort of people break your encryption.
Cory Doctorow

Incorrect documentation is often worse than no documentation.
Bertrand Meyer

Hofstadter’s Law: It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter’s Law.
Douglas Hofstadter

To iterate is human, to recurse divine.
L. Peter Deutsch

I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.
Dwight D. Eisenhower

There are only two industries that refer to their customers as ‘users’.
Edward Tufte

Walking on water and developing software from a specification are easy if both are frozen.
Edward V Berard

There are only two kinds of programming languages: those people always bitch about and those nobody uses.
Bjarne Stroustrup

Some people, when confronted with a problem, think „I know, I’ll use regular expressions.“ Now they have two problems.
Jamie Zawinski alt.religion.emacs

If you think your users are idiots, only idiots will use it.
Linus Thorwalds

Every methodology I’ve come across has, at its kernel, a very small section labelled “do magic here”.

Remember that there is no code faster than no code.
Taligent’s Guide to Designing Programs

The city’s central computer told you? R2D2, you know better than to trust a strange computer!

The trouble with programmers is that you can never tell what a programmer is doing until it’s too late.
Seymour Cray

Documentation is like term insurance: It satisfies because almost no one who subscribes to it depends on its benefits.
Alan J Perlis

Sorry, I can’t do that Dave.

In programming the hard part isn’t solving problems, but deciding what problems to solve.
Paul Graham

The browser is a really hostile programming environment.
Douglas Crockford, The JavaScript Programming Language (video lecture)

Perfection [in design] is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Below the surface of the machine, the program moves. Without effort, it expands and contracts. In great harmony, electrons scatter and regroup. The forms on the monitor are but ripples on the water. The essence stays invisibly below.
Master Yuan-Ma, The Book of Programming

The best programs are written so that computing machines can perform them quickly and so that human beings can understand them clearly. A programmer is ideally an essayist who works with traditional aesthetic and literary forms as well as mathematical concepts, to communicate the way that an algorithm works and to convince a reader that the results will be correct.
Donald E Knuth, Selected Papers on Computer Science

Why did the Roman Empire collapse? What is the Latin for office automation?
Alan J Perlis

When in doubt, use brute force.
Ken Thompson

A C program is like a fast dance on a newly waxed dance floor by people carrying razors.
Waldi Ravens

Python’s a drop-in replacement for BASIC in the sense that Optimus Prime is a drop-in replacement for a truck.
Cory Dodt

I have always wished for my computer to be as easy to use as my telephone; my wish has come true because I can no longer figure out how to use my telephone.
Bjarne Stroustrup

Good design adds value faster than it adds cost.
Thomas C. Gale

640K ought to be enough for anybody.
Bill Gates, 1981

There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home.
Ken Olson, President, Digital Equipment Corporation, 1977

What I cannot build, I do not understand.
Richard Feynman

Most good programmers do programming not because they expect to get paid or get adulation by the public, but because it is fun to program.
Linus Torvalds

Always code as if the guy who ends up maintaining your code will be a violent psychopath who knows where you live.
Rick Osborne

That’s the thing about people who think they hate computers. What they really hate is lousy programmers.
Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle Oath of Fealty

Programming today is a race between software engineers striving to build bigger and better idiot-proof programs, and the universe trying to build bigger and better idiots. So far, the universe is winning.
Rick Cook

Haskell is faster than C++, more concise than Perl, more regular than Python, more flexible than Ruby, more typeful than C#, more robust than Java, and has absolutely nothing in common with PHP.
Autrijus Tang

Debugging time increases as a square of the program’s size.
Chris Wenham

Randall Munroe

Software sucks because users demand it to.
Nathan Myhrvold

Deleted code is debugged code.
Jeff Sickel

The use of COBOL cripples the mind; its teaching should therefore be regarded as a criminal offense.
E.W. Dijkstra

If you want to lose weight, don’t buy a new scale; change your diet. If you want to improve your software, don’t test more; develop better.
Steve McConnell Code Complete

Yuan-Ma said, ‘When you cut against the grain of the wood, much strength is needed. When you program against the grain of a problem, much code is needed.
Master Yuan-Ma, The Book of Programming

There are two major products that come out of Berkeley: LSD and UNIX. We don’t believe this to be a coincidence.
Jeremy S. Anderson

We are looking at a society increasingly dependent on machines, yet decreasingly capable of making or even using them effectively.
Douglas Rushkoff, Program or Be Programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age

Randall Munroe

If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t matter how fast it doesn’t work.
Mich Ravera

In my egotistical opinion, most people’s C programs should be indented six feet downward and covered with dirt.
Blair P. Houghton

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.
Brian Kernighan and P.J. Plauger, The Elements of Programming Style

Most of you are familiar with the virtues of a programmer. There are three, of course: laziness, impatience, and hubris.
Larry Wall

Any application that can be written in Javascript will eventually be written in Javascript.
Jeff Atwood

Get the girl to do it. I want this human computer to check the output of the electronic computer, and if she says they’re good, you know, I’m good to go.
John Glenn

Software is like sex: it’s better when it’s free.
Linus Torvalds

I always like seeing NSA-designed cryptography (particularly its key schedules). It’s like examining alien technology.
Bruce Schneier

If we’d asked the customers what they wanted, they would have said “faster horses”
Henry Ford

Without requirements or design, programming is the art of adding bugs to an empty text file.
Louis Srygley

My definition of an expert in any field is a person who knows enough about what’s really going on to be scared.
P. J. Plauger, Computer Language, March 1983

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.
Tony Hoare

Premature optimization is the root of all evil in programming.
Tony Hoare

Code never lies, comments sometimes do.
Ron Jeffries