Alan Perlis Quotes

Most popular Alan Perlis Quotes

Optimization hinders evolution.
— Alan Perlis

computer programming

One man's constant is another man's variable.
— Alan Perlis

computer programming

Within a computer natural language is unnatural.
— Alan Perlis

computers

Syntactic sugar causes cancer of the semi-colons.
— Alan Perlis

computer programming

Simplicity does not precede complexity, but follows it.
— Alan Perlis

simplicity

Everything should be built top-down, except the first time.
— Alan Perlis

computer programming

Every program is a part of some other program and rarely fits.
— Alan Perlis

computer programming

If you have a procedure with 10 parameters, you probably missed some.
— Alan Perlis

computer programming

Don't have good ideas if you aren't willing to be responsible for them.
— Alan Perlis

ideas

A program without a loop and a structured variable isn't worth writing.
— Alan Perlis

computer programming

Once you understand how to write a program get someone else to write it.
— Alan Perlis

computer programming

In man-machine symbiosis, it is man who must adjust: The machines can't.
— Alan Perlis

machines

It is easier to write an incorrect program than understand a correct one.
— Alan Perlis

computer programming

To understand a program you must become both the machine and the program.
— Alan Perlis

computer programming

There are two ways to write error-free programs; only the third one works.
— Alan Perlis

computer programming

Recursion is the root of computation since it trades description for time.
— Alan Perlis

computer programming

It is easier to change the specification to fit the program than vice versa.
— Alan Perlis

computer programming

A year spent in artificial intelligence is enough to make one believe in God.
— Alan Perlis

artificial intelligence

If a listener nods his head when you're explaining your program, wake him up.
— Alan Perlis

computer programming

Most people find the concept of programming obvious, but the doing impossible.
— Alan Perlis

computer programming

Perhaps if we wrote programs from childhood on, as adults we'd be able to read them.
— Alan Perlis

computer programming

Prolonged contact with the computer turns mathematicians into clerks and vice versa.
— Alan Perlis

computers

If a program manipulates a large amount of data, it does so in a small number of ways.
— Alan Perlis

computer programming

Fools ignore complexity. Pragmatists suffer it. Some can avoid it. Geniuses remove it.
— Alan Perlis
A language that doesn't affect the way you think about programming, is not worth knowing.
— Alan Perlis

computer programming

A programming language is low level when its programs require attention to the irrelevant.
— Alan Perlis

computer programming

Motto for a research laboratory: What we work on today, others will first think of tomorrow.
— Alan Perlis

research

The computer is the ultimate polluter. Its feces are indistinguishable from the food it produces.
— Alan Perlis

computers

It is better to have 100 functions operate on one data structure than 10 functions on 10 data structures.
— Alan Perlis

computer programming

The only constructive theory connecting neuroscience and psychology will arise from the study of software.
— Alan Perlis

software psychology

Every program has (at least) two purposes: the one for which it was written, and another for which it wasn't.
— Alan Perlis

computer programming

Functions delay binding: data structures induce binding. Moral: Structure data late in the programming process.
— Alan Perlis

computer programming

There will always be things we wish to say in our programs that in all known languages can only be said poorly.
— Alan Perlis

computer programming

In programming, everything we do is a special case of something more general - and often we know it too quickly.
— Alan Perlis

computer programming

The goal of computation is the emulation of our synthetic abilities, not the understanding of our analytic ones.
— Alan Perlis

computers

When someone says "I want a programming language in which I need only say what I wish done," give him a lollipop.
— Alan Perlis

computer programming

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

computer programming

Everyone can be taught to sculpt: Michelangelo would have had to be taught how not to. So it is with the great programmers.
— Alan Perlis

computer programming

Wherever there is modularity there is the potential for misunderstanding: Hiding information implies a need to check communication.
— Alan Perlis

computer programming

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

computer programming

The best book on programming for the layman is "Alice in Wonderland"; but that's because it's the best book on anything for the layman.
— Alan Perlis
The cybernetic exchange between man, computer and algorithm is like a game of musical chairs: The frantic search for balance always leaves one of the three standing ill at ease.
— Alan Perlis

computers

What is the difference between a Turing machine and the modern computer? It's the same as that between Hillary's ascent of Everest and the establishment of a Hilton hotel on its peak.
— Alan Perlis
Get into a rut early: Do the same processes the same way. Accumulate idioms. Standardize. The only difference (!) between Shakespeare and you was the size of his idiom list - not the size of his vocabulary.
— Alan Perlis

computer programming

Around computers it is difficult to find the correct unit of time to measure progress. Some cathedrals took a century to complete. Can you imagine the grandeur and scope of a program that would take as long?
— Alan Perlis

software

The most important computer is the one that rages in our skulls and ever seeks that satisfactory external emulator. The standardization of real computers would be a disaster - and so it probably won't happen.
— Alan Perlis

Brain

It goes against the grain of modern education to teach children to program. What fun is there in making plans, acquiring discipline in organizing thoughts, devoting attention to detail and learning to be self-critical?
— Alan Perlis

computer programming education