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Quotes for programmers to live by

A collection of quotations that are relevant to the world of computer programming, but which mostly come from elsewhere. They are probably also relevant to other fields of engineering practice.


Any fool can make something complicated. It takes a genius to make it simple.

- Woody Guthrie

If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?

- Albert Einstein

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.

- Albert Einstein

An engineer is a man who can do for five bob what any bloody fool can do for a quid.

- Neville Shute

Are you quite sure that all those bells and whistles, all those wonderful facilities of your so called powerful programming languages, belong to the solution set rather than the problem set?

- Edsger W. Dijkstra (Years before Microsoft added Linq to the .NET framework)

Einstein argued that there must be simplified explanations of nature, because God is not capricious or arbitrary. No such faith comforts the software engineer.

  - Fred Brooks

One of my most productive days was throwing away 1000 lines of code.

- Ken Thompson

Measuring programming progress by lines of code is like measuring aircraft building progress by weight.

 - Bill Gates

For a successful technology, honesty must take precedence over public relations for nature cannot be fooled.

- Richard Feynman (Report on the Challenger disaster)

Until you've used your bare hands to strain shit from boiling acid on a flaming production server, you don't get to say which parts of the release disciplines are important.

- Dominic Cronin (I wrote this in September 2018. Exactly what had inspired it is thankfully seared from my memory.)