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Computer scientists #

  • When a professor insists computer science is X but not Y, have compassion for his graduate students. —Alan Perlis, From ACM's SIGPLAN publication, (September, 1982), Article "Epigrams in Programming", by Alan J. Perlis of Yale University.
  • All parts should go together without forcing. You must remember that the parts you are reassembling were disassembled by you. Therefore, if you can’t get them together again, there must be a reason. By all means, do not use a hammer. —IBM Manual, 1925
  • There are only two hard things in Computer Science: cache invalidation and naming things. --Phil Karlton, ??
    • There are only two hard problems in Computer Science: cache invalidation, naming things and off-by-one errors. --??

Mathematicians #

  • If I were to awaken after having slept for a thousand years, my first question would be: Has the Riemann hypothesis been proven? —David Hilbert, Quoted in Mathematical Mysteries : The Beauty and Magic of Numbers (1999) by Calvin C. Clawson, p. 258
  • A mathematician is a person who can find analogies between theorems; a better mathematician is one who can see analogies between proofs and the best mathematician can notice analogies between theories. One can imagine that the ultimate mathematician is one who can see analogies between analogies. —Stefan Banach
  • In mathematics the art of proposing a question must be held of higher value than solving it. —Georg Cantor
  • In God we trust, all others bring data. --William Edwards Deming

Physicists #

  • Likewise, the scientist asks not what are the currently most important question, but 'which are at present solvable?' or sometimes merely 'in which can we make some small but genuine advance?' As long as the alchemists merely sought the philosopher's stone and aimed at finding the art of making gold, all their endeavors were fruitless; it was only when people restricted themselves to seemingly less valuable questions that they created chemistry. Thus natural science appears completely to lose from sight the large and general questions; but all the more splendid is the success when, groping in the thicket of special questions, we suddenly find a small opening that allows a hitherto undreamt of outlook on the whole. —Ludwig Boltzmann (1886) The Second Law of Thermodynamics in Theoretical Physics and Philosophical Problems: Selected Writings, edited by B. McGuinness, Reidel, Dordretcht.

  • "In some fields, physicists have a bad reputation for applying the Ising model directly" --Dirk Helbing (via

  • Physicists bring a special balance between mathematical rigor and computational approaches and intuition for the problem. We are artists of the approximation. --Dirk Helbing (via

Complex systems #

  • To explain a system's topology we first need to describe how it came into being. --Albert-László Barabási

  • Although many fads have come and gone in complexity, one things is increasingly clear: Interconnectivity is so fundamental to the behavior of complex systems that networks are here to stay. --Albert-László Barabási.

Problem solving #

  • Try a hard problem. You may not solve it, but you will prove something else. —John Littlewood
  • A good stack of examples, as large as possible, is indispensable for a thorough understanding of any concept, and when I want to learn something new, I make it my first job to build one. —Paul Halmos
  • It isn’t that they can’t see the solution. It is that they can’t see the problem. —Gilbert Chesterton
  • For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong. —Henry Mencken

Writers #

Oscar Wilde #

  • I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best.
  • A thing is not necessarily true because a man dies for it.
  • It is better to have a permanent income than to be fascinating.
  • One can survive everything nowadays except death.
  • Prayer must never be answered: if it is, it ceases to be prayer and becomes correspondence.