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Edsger W. Dijkstra (1930 – 2002)


Dutch computer scientist, and winner of the 1972 Turing Award.
Edsger W. Dijkstra
FORTRAN, 'the infantile disorder', by now nearly 20 years old, is hopelessly inadequate for whatever computer application you have in mind today: it is now too clumsy, too risky, and too expensive to use.
Dijkstra quotes
Elegance is not a dispensable luxury but a quality that decides between success and failure.
Dijkstra
Our intellectual powers are rather geared to master static relations and that our powers to visualize processes evolving in time are relatively poorly developed. For that reason we should do (as wise programmers aware of our limitations) our utmost to shorten the conceptual gap between the static program and the dynamic process, to make the correspondence between the program (spread out in text space) and the process (spread out in time) as trivial as possible.




Dijkstra Edsger W. quotes
Please don't fall into the trap of believing that I am terribly dogmatic about [the go to statement]. I have the uncomfortable feeling that others are making a religion out of it, as if the conceptual problems of programming could be solved by a simple trick, by a simple form of coding discipline!
Dijkstra Edsger W.
When we had no computers, we had no programming problem either. When we had a few computers, we had a mild programming problem. Confronted with machines a million times as powerful, we are faced with a gigantic programming problem.
Edsger W. Dijkstra quotes
Thank goodness we don't have only serious problems, but ridiculous ones as well.
Edsger W. Dijkstra
LISP has been jokingly described as "the most intelligent way to misuse a computer". I think that description a great compliment because it transmits the full flavor of liberation: it has assisted a number of our most gifted fellow humans in thinking previously impossible thoughts.
Dijkstra Edsger W. quotes
Probably I am very naive, but I also think I prefer to remain so, at least for the time being and perhaps for the rest of my life.
Dijkstra
I mean, if 10 years from now, when you are doing something quick and dirty, you suddenly visualize that I am looking over your shoulders and say to yourself "Dijkstra would not have liked this", well, that would be enough immortality for me.
Dijkstra Edsger W.
Besides a mathematical inclination, an exceptionally good mastery of one's native tongue is the most vital asset of a competent programmer.
Edsger W. Dijkstra
When we take the position that it is not only the programmer's responsibility to produce a correct program but also to demonstrate its correctness in a convincing manner, then the above remarks have a profound influence on the programmer's activity: the object he has to produce must be usefully structured.




Edsger W. Dijkstra quotes
We must be very careful when we give advice to younger people: sometimes they follow it!
Edsger W. Dijkstra
We can found no scientific discipline, nor a hearty profession, on the technical mistakes of the Department of Defense and, mainly, one computer manufacturer.
Dijkstra quotes
How do we convince people that in programming simplicity and clarity —in short: what mathematicians call "elegance"— are not a dispensable luxury, but a crucial matter that decides between success and failure?
Dijkstra Edsger W.
Simplicity is prerequisite for reliability.
Dijkstra Edsger W. quotes
Computer Science is no more about computers than astronomy is about telescopes.
Edsger W. Dijkstra
Several people have told me that my inability to suffer fools gladly is one of my main weaknesses.
Edsger W. Dijkstra quotes
For me, the first challenge for computing science is to discover how to maintain order in a finite, but very large, discrete universe that is intricately intertwined. And a second, but not less important challenge is how to mould what you have achieved in solving the first problem, into a teachable discipline: it does not suffice to hone your own intellect (that will join you in your grave), you must teach others how to hone theirs. The more you concentrate on these two challenges, the clearer you will see that they are only two sides of the same coin: teaching yourself is discovering what is teachable.
Edsger W. Dijkstra
When I came back from Munich, it was September, and I was Professor of Mathematics at the Eindhoven University of Technology. Later I learned that I had been the Department's third choice, after two numerical analysts had turned the invitation down; the decision to invite me had not been an easy one, on the one hand because I had not really studied mathematics, and on the other hand because of my sandals, my beard and my "arrogance" (whatever that may be).
Dijkstra Edsger W.
When FORTRAN has been called an infantile disorder, full PL/1, with its growth characteristics of a dangerous tumor, could turn out to be a fatal disease.


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