These are some of my favourite quotes and blurbs about computer science, math, etc.

“In a sense, there’s no such thing as a random number. For example, is 2 a random number?”

Donald Knuth

“μή εἶναι βασιλικήν ἀτραπόν ἐπί γεωμετρίαν”

“There is no royal road to geometry.”


“[Computer science] is not really about computers – and it’s not about computers in the same sense that physics is not really about particle accelerators, and biology is not about microscopes and Petri dishes…and geometry isn’t really about using surveying instruments. Now the reason that we think computer science is about computers is pretty much the same reason that the Egyptians thought geometry was about surveying instruments: when some field is just getting started and you don’t really understand it very well, it’s very easy to confuse the essence of what you’re doing with the tools that you use.”

Hal Abelson

“Rien n’est plus fécond, tous les mathématiciens le savent, que ces obscures analogies, ces troubles reflets d’une théorie à une autre, ces furtives caresses, ces brouilleries inexplicables ; rien aussi ne donne plus de plaisir au chercheur. Un jour vient où l’illusion se dissipe ; le pressentiment se change en certitude ; les théories jumelles révèlent leur source commune avant de disparaître; comme l’enseigne la Gītā on atteint à la connaissance et à l’indifférence en même temps. La métaphysique est devenue mathématique, prête à former la matière d’un traité dont la beauté froide ne saurait plus nous émouvoir.”

André Weil

“Als je in de fysica iets niet begrijpt, je kunt je altijd verschuilen achter de ongepelde diepte van de natuur. Je kunt altijd God de schuld geven. Je hebt zelf het niet zo ingewikkeld gemaakt. Maar als je programma niet werkt, nu heb je niemand om je achter te verschuilen. Je kunt je niet verschuilen achter onwillige natuur. Nee, een 0 is een 0 en een 1 is een 1, en als het niet werkt je hebt gewoon fout gedaan.”

“If in physics there is something you don’t understand, you can always hide behind the unpeeled depth of nature. You can always blame God. You didn’t make it so complicated yourself. But when your program doesn’t work, you have no one to hide behind. You can’t hide behind an obstinate nature. No, a 0 is a 0 and a 1 is a 1, and if it doesn’t work you have simply messed up.”

Edsger Dijkstra

When the first mathematical, logical, and natural uniformities, the first laws, were discovered, men were so carried away by the clearness, beauty and simplification that resulted, that they believed themselves to have deciphered authentically the eternal thoughts of the Almighty.

— William James

One of the main causes of the fall of the Roman Empire was that, lacking zero, they had no way to indicate successful termination of their C programs.

Robert Firth