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Alan Perlis

  • American scientist
  • Born April 1, 1922
  • Died February 7, 1990

Alan Jay Perlis (April 1, 1922 – February 7, 1990) was an American computer scientist and professor at Purdue University, Carnegie Mellon University and Yale University. He is best known for his pioneering work in programming languages and was the first recipient of the Turing Award.


A year spent in artificial intelligence is enough to make one believe in God.




If your computer speaks English, it was probably made in Japan.




It goes against the grain of modern education to teach students to program. What fun is there to making plans, acquiring discipline, organizing thoughts, devoting attention to detail, and learning to be self critical.




In software systems it is often the early bird that makes the worm.




Fools ignore complexity. Pragmatists suffer it. Some can avoid it. Geniuses remove it.




In computing, turning the obvious into the useful is a living definition of the word 'frustration'.




You can measure a programmer's perspective by noting his attitude on the continuing vitality of FORTRAN.




The computing field is always in need of new cliches.




It is easier to write an incorrect program than understand a correct one.




One man's constant is another man's variable.




A picture is worth 10K words - but only those to describe the picture. Hardly any sets of 10K words can be adequately described with pictures.




There are two ways to write error-free programs; only the third one works.




A programming language is low level when its programs require attention to the irrelevant.




LISP programmers know the value of everything and the cost of nothing.




If a listener nods his head when you're explaining your program, wake him up.




It is easier to change the specification to fit the program than vice versa.




Is it possible that software is not like anything else, that it is meant to be discarded: that the whole point is to always see it as a soap bubble?




The best book on programming for the layman is 'Alice in Wonderland'; but that's because it's the best book on anything for the layman.




We toast the Lisp programmer who pens his thoughts within nests of parentheses.




Some programming languages manage to absorb change, but withstand progress.




If you have a procedure with 10 parameters, you probably missed some.




Simplicity does not precede complexity, but follows it.




I think it is inevitable that people program poorly. Training will not substantially help matters. We have to learn to live with it.




In English every word can be verbed. Would that it were so in our programming languages.




Computer Science is embarrassed by the computer.




Don't have good ideas if you aren't willing to be responsible for them.



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