Quotes on the Theory of Computing
Here is a small collection of quotes that, taken out
of context, say something relevant or funny (or both)
about the Theory of Computing.
Some quotes have been taken from the web. I doubt that all of them
Why is Complexity Theory so Complicated?
- There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers
exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will
instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more
bizarre and inexplicable.
There is another which states that this has already happened.
(Douglas Adams, "The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy", 1980)
- Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.
(Albert Einstein, Reader's Digest, Oct. 1977)
- In mathematics you don't understand things. You just get
used to them.
(Johann von Neumann)
The Legacy of Paul Erdos
- You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.
- The mere formulation of a problem is far more essential than its solution, which may be merely a matter of
mathematical or experimental skills. To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new
angle requires creative imagination and marks real advances in science.
- It is better to ask some of the questions than to know all the
On Proving Theorems
- If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not
be called research, would it?
- One can measure the importance of a scientific
work by the number of erlier publications rendered superfluous by it.
- I have had my results for a long time: but I do not yet know
how I am to arrive at them.
(Karl Friedrich Gauss)
- We often hear that mathematics consists mainly of "proving theorems." Is a writer's job mainly that of "writing
(Giancarlo Rota, in preface to P. Davis and R. Hersh
"The Mathematical Experience", Boston: Birkhäuser, 1981)
- Research is the process of going
up alleys to see it they are blind
- If you want truly to understand something, try to change it.
- When you have completed 95% of your journey you are halfway
- I like thinking big. If you're going to be thinking anything, you might as well think big.
- Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.
(Ralph Waldo Emerson)
On Writing Theory Papers
- This paper gives wrong solutions to trivial problems.
The basic error, however, is not new.
(Clifford Truesdell, Mathematical Reviews, 12, p. 561)
- The Lord's Prayer is 66 words, the Gettysburg Address is 286 words, and there are 1,322 words in the Declaration
of Independence. Yet, government regulations on the sale of cabbage
total 26,911 words.
- I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound
they make as they fly by.
- If you can't convince them, confuse them.
(Harry S. Truman)
- The secret of creativity is knowing
how to hide your sources
- There is no sense being precise when you don't even
know what you're talking about
(John von Neumann)
- We are on a mission for God.
(John Belushi in The Blues Brothers, directed by John Landis, 1980)
- You'll never know if you don't go
You'll never shine if you don't glow.
(Smash Mouth in All Star, 1999)
- To be without some of the things you want is an indispensable part of happiness.
- Lord, grant that I may always desire more than I can accomplish.
On Scientific Policy
- Evil will always triumph, because good is dumb.
(Rick Moranis in Space Balls, directed by Mel Brooks)
- Every society honors its live conformists and its dead
On Finding a Job
- Find out what you like doing best and get someone to pay you for
- Don't go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.
- Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons.
- Property is a nuisance.