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What's your favourite quote about programming?

One quote per answer, and please check for duplicates before posting!

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166 Answers

There are 10 kinds of people in the world — those who understand binary and those who don't.

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and those who confuse it with ternary –  eds Sep 4 '10 at 1:30
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Every base is base 10. –  Larry Wang Sep 4 '10 at 3:10
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10 in what base? –  MIA Sep 21 '10 at 22:37
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@Malfist: Click. –  g.f Sep 28 '10 at 21:55
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all your base 10 are belong to us –  Sean Patrick Floyd Nov 12 '10 at 10:08
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Keep it simple, stupid!

The KISS principle

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Is that specifically a programming quote? –  Peter Coulton Sep 10 '10 at 19:22
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No, it's a generally-applicable engineering principle. –  Mason Wheeler Sep 13 '10 at 0:01
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Should array indices start at 0 or 1? My compromise of 0.5 was rejected without, I thought, proper consideration.
  — Stan Kelly-Bootle

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A clever person solves a problem. A wise person avoids it.
  — Albert Einstein

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Programming quote? –  Jonas Sep 2 '10 at 9:06
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This quote is very relevant to programming –  finnw Sep 6 '10 at 3:16
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Being a good software engineer is 3% talent, 97% not being distracted by the internet.

— Unknown, appropriated

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That's not true at -- d'oh! –  Steve Melnikoff Oct 26 '10 at 15:25
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...and 1% avoiding fence post errors. –  Roger Pate Oct 28 '10 at 2:35
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A computer is a stupid machine with the ability to do incredibly smart things, while computer programmers are smart people with the ability to do incredibly stupid things. They are, in short, a perfect match.
  — Bill Bryson

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If you want to set off and go develop some grand new thing, you don't need millions of dollars of capitalization. You need enough pizza and Diet Coke to stick in your refrigerator, a cheap PC to work on and the dedication to go through with it.
  — John Carmack

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All problems in computer science can be solved by another level of indirection... Except for the problem of too many layers of indirection.

— David Wheeler

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What's the simplest thing that could possibly work?

— Ward Cunningham

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Testing can only prove the presence of bugs, not their absence.

— Edsger W. Dijkstra

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There are two major products that come out of Berkeley: LSD and UNIX. We don't believe this to be a coincidence.

Jeremy S. Anderson

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This quote is wrong. Just wrong. See web.morons.org/feature/rants/bsdlsd.jsp –  imgx64 Sep 22 '10 at 3:00
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That's a shame because it's a great phrase. –  Neil Aitken Sep 29 '10 at 11:26
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@Neil: "If 'accurate' isn't a requirement, I could write an arbitrarily great phrase," to paraphrase another quote. :) –  Roger Pate Oct 11 '10 at 16:08
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What exactly is LSD? –  hasenj Nov 12 '10 at 10:19
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@hasen j, Traditionally, pounds, shillings, and pence, but nowadays a hallucinogen. –  TRiG Dec 1 '10 at 18:45
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I don't care if it works on your machine! We are not shipping your machine!

-- Vidiu Platon (whoever that is)

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When all you have is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail

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Attributed to Abraham Maslow (en.wiktionary.org/wiki/…) –  Bill Karwin Sep 9 '10 at 18:05
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@Yar Turn your pliers sideways. –  Mark C Mar 2 '11 at 21:19
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Good code is its own best documentation. As you're about to add a comment, ask yourself, 'How can I improve the code so that this comment isn't needed?' Improve the code and then document it to make it even clearer.

-Steve McConnell

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There are two ways of constructing a software design: One way is to make it so simple that there are obviously no deficiencies, and the other way is to make it so complicated that there are no obvious deficiencies.

— C.A.R. Hoare

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A computer lets you make more mistakes faster than any invention in human history—with the possible exceptions of handguns and tequila.
  — Mitch Ratcliffe

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I had a specific answer in mind for my bounty originally, but I discovered you can't apply them instantly! So I let it runs its course, and even though there's about a day left, this is my favorite answer from the past week. One I'd heard before, but never knew who said it. Thanks! –  Roger Pate Oct 14 '10 at 0:42
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A programmer is a device for turning caffeine into code.

(Not original to me, but associated with me through appearances on DotNetRocks etc. Lifted from a Usenet sig, I long ago forgot whose, which was no doubt inspired by Paul Erdos.)

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There, it should work now.

— All programmers

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Any fool can write code that a computer can understand. Good programmers write code that humans can understand.

Martin Fowler (in his book Refactoring)

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Beware of bugs in the above code; I have only proved it correct, not tried it.
  — Donald Knuth

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You wanted a banana but what you got was a gorilla holding the banana and the entire jungle.
  — Joe Armstrong on object-oriented programming

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Still laughing... |) –  AareP Dec 16 '10 at 19:00
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A programmer started to cuss
Because getting to sleep was a fuss
As he lay there in bed
Looping 'round in his head
was: while(!asleep()) sheep++;

Not quite a quote as such, but I little limerick I've always liked.

Source piercings - bash.org/?845468

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My old answer from SO:

If the code and the comments disagree, then both are probably wrong.

Another good website: "Quotes about Tech Writing"

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Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

-- Arthur C. Clarke

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"Any sufficiently advanced magic is indistinguishable from technology" — Larry Niven. –  Joe D Oct 24 '10 at 16:26
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"Any technology which is distinguishable from magic is insufficiently advanced." (Can't remember.) –  TRiG Dec 1 '10 at 18:53
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Sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice. –  Glen Solsberry Jan 27 '11 at 21:56
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To understand recursion, you first need to understand recursion

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Software is like sex: it's better when it's free.

— Linus Torvalds

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Can you split this in two different answers so that they can be voted independently? –  Lorenzo Sep 2 '10 at 7:36
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The real question is, how did Linus come to find this out? –  Kieran Senior Sep 29 '10 at 14:49
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Software is like sex because it's never really free. –  Darel Jan 20 '11 at 19:39
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"For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled."

-Richard Feynman (Rogers' Commission Report into the Challenger Crash, Appendix F - Personal Observations on Reliability of Shuttle)

More succinctly:

"You can't lie to the compiler."

-Andrew Stevenson

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That story still galls me. Imagine that, Dr. Richard Feynman, according to the book I read, had to threaten to withhold his signature unless his account of the accident was included in the official report. It was included as an appendix, so as to say, "The official investigation is over, and now here is some speculation from this eccentric." –  Mark C Sep 28 '10 at 12:59
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On the seventh day, God said, "Ship it! We'll release patches later."
  — Josh Flachsbart

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The real question is not whether machines think but whether men do.

— B. F. Skinner

Related more to AI than to simple programming, but I still like it.

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The difficulty of a bug can be measured as the distance, in lines of code, from the cause of a bug to the visible symptom of a bug.

The Klophaus Equation of Bug Difficulty

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