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Edsger W. Dijkstra (1930 – 2002)


Dutch computer scientist, and winner of the 1972 Turing Award.
Edsger W. Dijkstra
For a number of years I have been familiar with the observation that the quality of programmers is a decreasing function of the density of go to statements in the programs they produce. More recently I discovered why the use of the go to statement has such disastrous effects, and I became convinced that the go to statement should be abolished from all "higher level" programming languages.
Dijkstra quotes
The precious gift that this Turing Award acknowledges is Dijkstra's style: his approach to programming as a high, intellectual challenge; his eloquent insistence and practical demonstration that programs should be composed correct, not just debugged into correctness; and his illuminating perception of problems at the foundations of program design. He
Dijkstra
In the good old days physicists repeated each other's experiments, just to be sure. Today they stick to FORTRAN, so that they can share each other's programs, bugs included.




Dijkstra Edsger W. quotes
APL is a mistake, carried through to perfection. It is the language of the future for the programming techniques of the past: it creates a new generation of coding bums.
Dijkstra Edsger W.
It is practically impossible to teach good programming to students that have had a prior exposure to BASIC: as potential programmers they are mentally mutilated beyond hope of regeneration.
Edsger W. Dijkstra quotes
The problems of the real world are primarily those you are left with when you refuse to apply their effective solutions.
Edsger W. Dijkstra
The use of COBOL cripples the mind; its teaching should, therefore, be regarded as a criminal offense.
Dijkstra Edsger W. quotes
Program testing can be used to show the presence of bugs, but never to show their absence!
Dijkstra
[Though computer science is a fairly new discipline, it is predominantly based on the Cartesian world view. As Edsgar W. Dijkstra has pointed out] A scientific discipline emerges with the - usually rather slow! - discovery of which aspects can be meaningfully 'studied in isolation for the sake of their own consistency.
Dijkstra Edsger W.
The question of whether Machines Can Think... is about as relevant as the question of whether Submarines Can Swim.
Edsger W. Dijkstra
Program testing can be a very effective way to show the presence of bugs, but it is hopelessly inadequate for showing their absence.




Edsger W. Dijkstra quotes
If you want more effective programmers, you will discover that they should not waste their time debugging, they should not introduce the bugs to start with.
Edsger W. Dijkstra
FORTRAN's tragic fate has been its wide acceptance, mentally chaining thousands and thousands of programmers to our past mistakes.
Dijkstra quotes
Simplicity is a great virtue but it requires hard work to achieve it and education to appreciate it. And to make matters worse: complexity sells better.
Dijkstra Edsger W.
The required techniques of effective reasoning are pretty formal, but as long as programming is done by people that don't master them, the software crisis will remain with us and will be considered an incurable disease. And you know what incurable diseases do: they invite the quacks and charlatans in, who in this case take the form of Software Engineering gurus.
Dijkstra Edsger W. quotes
Don't blame me for the fact that competent programming, as I view it as an intellectual possibility, will be too difficult for "the average programmer" you must not fall into the trap of rejecting a surgical technique because it is beyond the capabilities of the barber in his shop around the corner.
Edsger W. Dijkstra
The major cause [of the software crisis] is that the machines have become several orders of magnitude more powerful! To put it quite bluntly: as long as there were no machines, programming was no problem at all; when we had a few weak computers, programming became a mild problem, and now we have gigantic computers, programming has become an equally gigantic problem. In this sense the electronic industry has not solved a single problem, it has only created them, it has created the problem of using its products.
Edsger W. Dijkstra quotes
Write a paper promising salvation, make it a 'structured' something or a 'virtual' something, or 'abstract', 'distributed' or 'higher-order' or 'applicative' and you can almost be certain of having started a new cult.
Edsger W. Dijkstra
Programming is one of the most difficult branches of applied mathematics; the poorer mathematicians had better remain pure mathematicians.
Dijkstra Edsger W.
The effective exploitation of his powers of abstraction must be regarded as one of the most vital activities of a competent programmer.


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