Your Favorite Programming Quote

Great, great idea for a post.

You obliquely referenced Programmers at Work. I just finished reading it, so here is my list of the best quotes from it:

“The way it was implemented here is not the way it was implemented at places it works”
– coworker in the hallway.

My favorite quote as related to programming or development in general is by Moishe Lettvin–conveniently, taken from the same blog entry which led me to yours here some months ago.

“If you have profound knowledge of the cloud of problems around programming, of the higher level problems you’re trying to solve, you’ll do a better job programming. This is obvious, and explains why the best programs are always the ones programmers write for themselves, eg. emacs, Google, VisicIlc, etc. And it conversely explains why so many programs are so uninspired, too: if you’ll never use the feature you’re writing, you’re not going to imbue it with brilliance, because the brilliance will never occur to you.”

Being a developer going through the trials and tribulations of end users making change requests a few weeks before launching the system, my current favourite (and apologies for not remembering who said this)

It’s not a bug…it’s a feature!!

All my favourites seem to have appeared including the “other 90% of the time” and the “I’ll use regular expressions” quotes.

Instead I’ll try to paraphrase a line from Operating Systems Concepts by Peterson and Silberschatz (sp?). It discusses multiprogramming in computers. I hope I don’t b@$+@^dize it too badly.

“Multiprogramming is like a lawyer. While the lawyer is waiting for papers to be drawn up for one case, he can be doing research for another or preparing for a court date. In this manner, a lawyer need never be idle. Idle lawyers tend to become politicians, so there is a certain social value to keeping them busy”.

“I’m too stupid to run this program”

Anonymous user
(who does not realize that the real fault lies in the developer)

It works on my computer!

My favourite, the one I have on a sticker on my monitor is: “Assumption is the mother of all f***ups”. Source unknown.

“It’s not that I’m surrounded by incompetence that bothers me, it’s that I fit in so well.”

“I have a rock garden. Last week three of them died.”

  • Richard Diran

i found this quote somewhere:

“Some programmers just need to take a deep breath and write code that is a delicious salami sandwich, and not an extravagantly prepared four course meal that tastes like shit.”


who could forget the Klingon quotes??

"A TRUE Klingon Warrior does not comment his code!"

this is also a GREAT list (not many sourced):
"Wexelblat’s Scheduling Algorithm:
Choose two:
* Good
* Fast
* Cheap
"Everybody Knows:

* If you don't understand it, you can't program it.
* If you didn't measure it, you didn't do it.


“In order to understand recursion, one must first understand recursion.”

I don’t know who said it, but I think it’s awesome :slight_smile:

I’d say the people I’ve always looked up to are the likes of Carmack, McConnell, Abrash, Knuth and Fowler.


“Giving up on Microsoft” - Jeff Atwood. :wink:

“If you don’t want to be replaced by a computer, don’t act like one.”

  • Arno Penzias, Ideas Information

My site with general computer quotes. Although few are related to programming, there are a few gems in there.

“In order to understand recursion, one must first understand recursion.”

Not my favourite, but in the same vein as the above quote:

“He works at the department of redundancy department”

The lary wall quote is interesting.

I’ve been learning Ruby lately and am just completely miserable with it.

It’s kind of like a language for people who just want to play. It has all sorts of neat tricks–alternate ways to do things that look cute and are fun but obfuscate the hell out of the code.

Most are little changes for absolutely no reason…

Putting the if at the end, for no reason except that it might have suited some developers twisted sense of ascetics (x = 5 if x 5)

Replacing a string concatination with substution for the same reason. Sometimes it saves 1 character of typing, sometimes it costs 1, but since it’s different, it’s yet another alternate way to do something:

a="bill was " + location

can be replaced with

a=“bill was $(location)”

ooh, big advantage. Larry was right–Keep the language features at a minimum, keep patterns. ALWAYS enforce use of parentheses for method calls, just follow the same pattern every time.

Being able to override operators makes me feel kind of ill, Not that it’s not “Cute” but “Cute” doesn’t justify hiding a method call in a place that doesn’t look like a method call. It really doesn’t hurt anyone if you just use a method called “lookup()” or something instead of overriding []

The thing that really tore it is the lack of anything equivalent to “Option Explicit”. I know lots of people that wouldn’t hire anyone who didn’t understand that “Option Explicit” HAS to be the first line of every VB file–and Ruby has no way to do this.

Everything in this language defies larry wall’s quote, and although I’ve never been a huge perl fan either, all of a sudden I’m feeling a lot more respect for the man.

Saving a few keystrokes isn’t generally a good thing unless you only have two fingers to type with.

“A developer writes an average of 6 lines of code per day for the entire project; think what you can do with 6 lines of Assembler and with 6 lines of a high level language”; anonymous (actually just don’t remember). Changed my life. :slight_smile:

‘In pursuit of the dubious goal of producing idiot-proof, zero-learning-curve programs, even programs intended for heavy-duty use such as editors–arguably the most important piece of software you’ll use–have been turned into children’s toys, effectively expert-proofed’ – Tom Christiansen