Programming Quotes

I'll be updating this page with awesome programming quotes, mostly on code simplicity and elegance.

Most of them is are coined by programmers, for programmers; but some of them, while general, are so fitting for software development, it would be a sin not to include them here (i.e. Leonardo da Vinci, E. F. Schumacher).

If you have a suggestion, please add it here.

General

"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication."

-- Leonardo da Vinci


"Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius -- and a lot of courage -- to move in the opposite direction."

-- E. F. Schumacher, Small Is Beautiful: A Study of Economics As If People Mattered (1973)


Programming

"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. The first method is far more difficult. It demands the same skill, devotion, insight, and even inspiration as the discovery of the simple physical laws which underlie the complex phenomena of nature."

-- C. A. R. Hoare, The Emperor's Old Clothes (1980)


"Simplicity is prerequisite for reliability."

-- Edsger W. Dijkstra, How do we tell truths that might hurt? (1975)


"The best code is no code at all. Every new line of code you willingly bring into the world is code that has to be debugged, code that has to be read and understood, code that has to be supported. Every time you write new code, you should do so reluctantly, under duress, because you completely exhausted all your other options."

-- Jeff Atwood, Effective Programming: More Than Writing Code (2012)


"At first I hoped that such a technically unsound project would collapse but I soon realized it was doomed to success. Almost anything in software can be implemented, sold, and even used given enough determination. There is nothing a mere scientist can say that will stand against the flood of a hundred million dollars. But there is one quality that cannot be purchased in this way -- and that is reliability. The price of reliability is the pursuit of the utmost simplicity. It is a price which the very rich find most hard to pay."

-- C. A. R. Hoare, The Emperor's Old Clothes (1980)


"The fastest code is the code which does not run. The code easiest to maintain is the code that was never written."

-- Robert Galanakis, Practical Maya Programming with Python (2014)


"One of my most productive days was throwing away 1000 lines of code."

-- Ken Thompson


"Deleted code is debugged code."

-- Jeff Sickel


"And folks, let’s be honest. Sturgeon was an optimist. Way more than 90% of code is crap."

-- Alexander Viro


"The key to performance is elegance, not battalions of special cases."

-- Jon Bentley and Douglas McIlroy: The key to performance is elegance not battalions of special cases, 2020


"My definition of an expert in any field is a person who knows enough about what’s really going on to be scared."

-- P. J. Plauger, Computer Language - March 1983


"Program testing can be a very effective way to show the presence of bugs, but is hopelessly inadequate for showing their absence."

-- Edsger W. Dijkstra, The Humble Programmer (1972)