Zitate von Edsger Wybe Dijkstra

Edsger Wybe Dijkstra Foto
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Edsger Wybe Dijkstra

Geburtstag: 11. Mai 1930
Todesdatum: 6. August 2002

Edsger Wybe Dijkstra war ein niederländischer Informatiker. Er war der Wegbereiter der strukturierten Programmierung. 1972 erhielt er den Turing Award für grundlegende Beiträge zur Entwicklung von Programmiersprachen.

„A programmer? But was that a respectable profession? For after all, what was programming? Where was the sound body of knowledge that could support it as an intellectually respectable discipline? I remember quite vividly how I envied my hardware colleagues, who, when asked about their professional competence, could at least point out that they knew everything about vacuum tubes, amplifiers and the rest, whereas I felt that, when faced with that question, I would stand empty-handed.“

—  Edsger W. Dijkstra

Dijkstra (1972) The Humble Programmer http://www.cs.utexas.edu/users/EWD/transcriptions/EWD03xx/EWD340.html (EWD340).
1970s
Kontext: After having programmed for some three years, I had a discussion with A. van Wijngaarden, who was then my boss at the Mathematical Center in Amsterdam, a discussion for which I shall remain grateful to him as long as I live. The point was that I was supposed to study theoretical physics at the University of Leiden simultaneously, and as I found the two activities harder and harder to combine, I had to make up my mind, either to stop programming and become a real, respectable theoretical physicist, or to carry my study of physics to a formal completion only, with a minimum of effort, and to become....., yes what? A programmer? But was that a respectable profession? For after all, what was programming? Where was the sound body of knowledge that could support it as an intellectually respectable discipline? I remember quite vividly how I envied my hardware colleagues, who, when asked about their professional competence, could at least point out that they knew everything about vacuum tubes, amplifiers and the rest, whereas I felt that, when faced with that question, I would stand empty-handed. Full of misgivings I knocked on van Wijngaarden’s office door, asking him whether I could “speak to him for a moment”; when I left his office a number of hours later, I was another person. For after having listened to my problems patiently, he agreed that up till that moment there was not much of a programming discipline, but then he went on to explain quietly that automatic computers were here to stay, that we were just at the beginning and could not I be one of the persons called to make programming a respectable discipline in the years to come? This was a turning point in my life and I completed my study of physics formally as quickly as I could. One moral of the above story is, of course, that we must be very careful when we give advice to younger people; sometimes they follow it!

„As a result, the topic became – primarily in the USA – prematurely known as ‘computer science’ – which, actually, is like referring to surgery as ‘knife science’ – and it was firmly implanted in people’s minds that computing science is about machines and their peripheral equipment. Quod non“

—  Edsger W. Dijkstra

Dijkstra (1986) On a cultural gap http://www.cs.utexas.edu/users/EWD/transcriptions/EWD09xx/EWD924.html (EWD 924).
1980s
Kontext: A confusion of even longer standing came from the fact that the unprepared included the electronic engineers that were supposed to design, build and maintain the machines. The job was actually beyond the electronic technology of the day, and, as a result, the question of how to get and keep the physical equipment more or less in working condition became in the early days the all-overriding concern. As a result, the topic became – primarily in the USA – prematurely known as ‘computer science’ – which, actually, is like referring to surgery as ‘knife science’ – and it was firmly implanted in people’s minds that computing science is about machines and their peripheral equipment. Quod non [Latin: "Which is not true"]. We now know that electronic technology has no more to contribute to computing than the physical equipment. We now know that programmable computer is no more and no less than an extremely handy device for realizing any conceivable mechanism without changing a single wire, and that the core challenge for computing science is hence a conceptual one, viz., what (abstract) mechanisms we can conceive without getting lost in the complexities of our own making.

„[Though computer science is a fairly new discipline, it is predominantly based on the Cartesian world view. As Edsgar W. Dijkstra has pointed out] A scientific discipline emerges with the - usually rather slow!“

—  Edsger W. Dijkstra

discovery of which aspects can be meaningfully 'studied in isolation for the sake of their own consistency.
Dijkstra (1982) as cited in: Douglas Schuler, Douglas Schuler Jonathan Jacky (1989) Directions and Implications of Advanced Computing, 1987. Vol 1, p. 84.
1980s

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„Don't blame me for the fact that competent programming, as I view it as an intellectual possibility, will be too difficult for "the average programmer"“

—  Edsger W. Dijkstra

you must not fall into the trap of rejecting a surgical technique because it is beyond the capabilities of the barber in his shop around the corner.
Dijkstra (1975) Comments at a Symposium http://www.cs.utexas.edu/users/EWD/transcriptions/EWD05xx/EWD512.html (EWD 512).
1970s

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

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