Nat Torkington, in his Four Short Links post for today at O’Reilly Radar, links a lengthy list of epigrams, or memorable quotes, from Alan Perlis. Perlis is a distinguished computer scientist, a past winner of the ACM’s Turing Award. He originally published this list of humorous quotes for an ACM publication, SIGPLAN Notices, in 1982. Several are dated but the majority are still very relevant. That says a lot about the author’s experience, intuition and wit.
There are over a hundred quotes. The temptation would be to print these to keep close to hand. The set really is too large for quick reference. Despite Wikipedia’s claims, many of these are specific to languages or technologies. Some will be irrelevant to everyday work. The remainder are probably better reflected on en masse to inspire a desire to become a better programmer, not through following a prescribed set of rules but through trying to suss out the common wisdom that underlies the epigrams.