Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Talk:Edsger W. Dijkstra - Wikiquote

Talk:Edsger W. Dijkstra - Wikiquote:

Simplicity is prerequisite for reliability

Found this quote: "The price of reliability is the pursuit of the utmost simplicity." by C.A.R. Hoare, in "The Emperor's Old Clothes" (1980 ACM Turing Award Lecture). Maybe E.W.Dijkstra said something to the same effect, if anyone knows for sure, please identify article/location? Then this: some quotes are under "Attributed", but with EWDxxx source mentioned. May I suggest: if you know the exact source, then check that source, quote EXACT, and move it to "Verified"? Leave it under "Attributed" only when you don't know where it came from. Alwin Henseler

This page refers to EWD498 as the source of this quote, but it doesn't appear anywhere in that document. If you look at the PDF version, it's just not there. Also, a search through Google Books shows the quote missing, as well. Vocaro 01:23, 6 April 2008 (UTC)
After further research, I believe this quote should be attributed to Hoare, not Dijkstra. Hamilton Richards of the Dijkstra Arhive dug up the following information:
If you use the EWD Archive's "advanced search" feature to look for "simplicity reliability" with Proximity set to "sentence", you find six matches: 1304, 619, 1175, 1041, 448, and 1284 (498 also shows up, because the search index hasn't been updated since I corrected 498).
In 1304, "The price of reliability is the pursuit of the utmost simplicity." is attributed to Tony Hoare.
In 619, the terms appear in "the 1975 Los Angeles Conference on Software Reliability, where C.A.R.Hoare stated emphatically, that for reliability simplicity is an absolute prerequisite."
In 1175, Dijkstra writes "computing science has very convincingly shown that simplicity is a necessary precondition for reliability".
In 1041, "the computing science community has agreed that simplicity is an essential ingredient of reliability."
In 448, Dijkstra quotes Hoare again, "reliability can only be achieved by the utmost simplicity".
In 1284: 'for the sake of reliability and intellectual control we have to keep the design simple".
Since so many of these quotes refer to Hoare, I think he is the true source of the quote.
I don't know of a searchable Hoare web site analogous to the Dijkstra archive, but the quote in EWD 1304 comes from Hoare's Turing Award lecture, "The Emperor's Old Clothes." Originally published in Communications of the ACM, 24(2), 75-83 (February 1981), the article is reprinted as Chapter 1 of C.A.R.Hoare and C.B.Jones, Essays in Computing Science (Prentice Hall, 1989), and the quote appears on page 15.