Best Quotes from Programming, Math, and Philosophy

Hi, after quite a hiatus… It’s always a lot of fun to write and, more importantly, to connect with readers. At this time, I’m resurrecting a draft that has languished for far too long. So here goes—Again, this is a compilation of some of my favorite quotes:

Software is under a constant tension. Being symbolic it is arbitrarily perfectible; but also it is arbitrarily changeable 🐙
~ Alan J. Perlis 

In mathematics, you don’t understand things. You just get used to them 🐒
~ John von Neumann 

Make no mistake about it: Computers process numbers, not symbols. We measure our understanding (and control) by the extent to which we can arithmetize an activity 🐸
~ Alan J. Perlis 

The contents of the mental stream are not as important as the consciousness that knows them 🐘
~ Mark Epstein 

Newton was the first to succeed in finding a clearly formulated basis from which he could deduce a wide field of phenomena by means of mathematical thinking—logically, quantitatively, and in harmony with experience 🐋
~ Albert Einstein 

It is hard enough to remember my opinions, without also remembering my reasons for them! 🐌
~ Friedrich Nietzsche, as quoted in Cristopher Moore’s and Stephan Mertens’ The Nature of Computation (Oxford University Press, 2011) 

Within a computer, natural language is unnatural 🐹
~ Alan J. Perlis 

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it 🐝
~ George Santayana 

It’s deja vu all over again 🐫
~ Yogi Berra 

If knowledge can create problems, it is not through ignorance that we can solve them 🐏
~ Isaac Asimov 

We do not see things as they are, we see them as we are 🐱
~ Anais Nin 

Man’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions 🐢
~ Oliver Wendell Holmes 

I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves 📖
~ Anna Quindlen 

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic 🔭
~ Arthur C. Clarke 

The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking that was used when we created them 🔨
~ Albert Einstein 

Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration 🎃
~ Thomas A. Edison 

“Genius”—To know without having learned; to draw just conclusions from unknown premises; to discern the soul of things 🎯
~ Ambrose Bierce 

I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by conscious endeavor 🏄
~ Henry David Thoreau 

If people never did silly things, nothing intelligent would ever get done 🚁
~ Ludwig Wittgenstein 

If a man will kick a fact out of the window, when he comes back he finds it again in the chimney corner 🚜
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson 

Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand. For all one knows that demon is simply the same instinct that makes a baby squall for attention. And yet it is also true that one can write nothing readable unless one constantly struggles to efface one’s own personality. Good prose is like a windowpane.
~ George Orwell, Why I Write (England Your England and Other Essays)

In the end, I leave you with a haunting and ethereal poem by Emily Dickinson; I must confess that the subject of software concurrency—coordinating computer programs when more than one task can start and complete in overlapping time periods—rose to the forefront of my mind as I selected these ineffable verses of poetry 🍒

I felt a clearing in my mind
As if my brain had split;

I tried to match it, seam by seam,
But could not make them fit.

The thought behind I strove to join
Unto the thought before;

But sequence raveled out of reach
Like balls upon a floor.

~ Emily Dickinson, The Lost Thought (The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson)

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