Epigrams on Programming

My Languages for Computers, Languages for Computing post reminded me of several of the “Perlisms” from Epigrams on Programming, a collection of humorous observations on programming published by Alan Perlis in SIGPLAN Notices 17(9), September 1982. Most of them are still as, or more, relevant now than they were when they were published.

Everyone who deals with computers regularly: GO. READ. THEM.

Some of my favorites:
19. A language that doesn’t affect the way you think about programming, is not worth knowing.
31. Simplicity does not precede complexity, but follows it.
49. Giving up on assembly language was the apple in our Garden of Eden: Languages whose use squanders machine cycles are sinful. The LISP machine now permits LISP programmers to abandon bra and fig-leaf.
87. We have the mini and the micro computer. In what semantic niche would the pico computer fall?
114. Within a computer natural language is unnatural.

The fact that many of the epigrams are contradictory in clever ways just makes them better.

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