Richard Hamming Quotes and Sayings  Page 1
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“The purpose of computing is insight, not numbers.”
 Richard Hamming 
“Given two people with exactly the same ability, the one person who manages day in and day out to get in one more hour of thinking will be tremendously more productive over a lifetime.”
 Richard Hamming 
“Good teachers deserve apples; great teachers deserve chocolate. A favorite quotation, written in calligraphy on his office door.”
 Richard Hamming 
“If the prior distribution, at which I am frankly guessing, has little or no effect on the result, then why bother; and if it has a large effect, then since I do not know what I am doing how would I dare act on the conclusions drawn?”
 Richard Hamming 
“What are the important problems of your field?”
 Richard Hamming 
“The most dangerous thought you can have as a creative person is to think you know what youâ€™re doing.”
 Richard Hamming 
“One of the characteristics of successful scientists is having courage.”
 Richard Hamming 
“You can tell other people all the alibis you want. I don't mind. But to yourself try to be honest.”
 Richard Hamming 
“I have tried, with little success, to get some of my friends to understand my amazement that the abstraction of integers for counting is both possible and useful. Is it not remarkable that 6 sheep plus 7 sheep makes 13 sheep; that 6 stones plus 7 stones make 13 stones? Is it not a miracle that the universe is so constructed that such a simple abstraction as a number is possible? To me this is one of the strongest examples of the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics. Indeed, I find it both strange and unexplainable.”
 Richard Hamming 
“Mathematicians stand on each others' shoulders and computer scientists stand on each others' toes.”
 Richard Hamming 
“It is better to do the right problem the wrong way than the wrong problem the right way.”
 Richard Hamming 
“A parable: A man was examining the construction of a cathedral. He asked a stone mason what he was doing chipping the stones, and the mason replied, "I am making stones." He asked a stone carver what he was doing. "I am carving a gargoyle." And so it went, each person said in detail what they were doing. Finally he came to an old woman who was sweeping the ground. She said. "I am helping build a cathedral." ...Most of the time each person is immersed in the details of one special part of the whole and does not think of how what they are doing relates to the larger picture.”
 Richard Hamming 
“Newton said, "If I have seen further than others, it is because I've stood on the shoulders of giants." These days we stand on each other's feet!”
 Richard Hamming 
“There are wavelengths that people cannot see, there are sounds that people cannot hear, and maybe computers have thoughts that people cannot think.”
 Richard Hamming 
“Mathematics is not merely an idle art form, it is an essential part of our society.”
 Richard Hamming 
“What you learn from others you can use to follow. What you learn for yourself you can use to lead.”
 Richard Hamming 
“Most of the time each person is immersed in the details of one special part of the whole and does not think of how what they are doing relates to the larger picture. For example, in education, a teacher might say in the next class he was going to "explain Young's modulus and how to measure it," rather than, "I am going to educate the students and prepare them for their future careers".”
 Richard Hamming 
“He who works with the door open gets all kinds of interruptions, but he also occasionally gets clues as to what the world is and what might be important.”
 Richard Hamming 
“If you don't work on important problems, it's not likely that you'll do important work.”
 Richard Hamming 
“Perhaps the central problem we face in all of computer science is how we are to get to the situation where we build on top of the work of others rather than redoing so much of it in a trivially different way.”
 Richard Hamming 
“Most people like to believe something is or is not true. Great scientists tolerate ambiguity very well. They believe the theory enough to go ahead; they doubt it enough to notice the errors and faults so they can step forward and create the new replacement theory. If you believe too much you'll never notice the flaws; if you doubt too much you won't get started. It requires a lovely balance.”
 Richard Hamming 
“True greatness is when your name is like ampere, watt, and fourierwhen it's spelled with a lower case letter.”
 Richard Hamming 
“Put glibly: In science if you know what you are doing you should not be doing it. In engineering if you do not know what you are doing you should not be doing it. Of course, you seldom, if ever, see either pure state.”
 Richard Hamming 
“Science is concerned with what is possible while engineering is concerned with choosing, from among the many possible ways, one that meets a number of often poorly stated economic and practical objectives.”
 Richard Hamming 
“It may be said "In research, if you know what you are doing, then you shouldn't be doing it." In a sense, if the answer turns out to be exactly what you expected, then you have learned nothing new, although you may have had your confidence increased somewhat.”
 Richard Hamming 
“Mathematics is an interesting intellectual sport but it should not be allowed to stand in the way of obtaining sensible information about physical processes.”
 Richard Hamming 
“Beware of finding what you're looking for. A favorite aphorism he often used.”
 Richard Hamming 
“When you are famous it is hard to work on small problems. This is what did [Claude Elwood] Shannon in. After information theory, what do you do for an encore? The great scientists often make this error. They fail to continue to plant the little acorns from which the mighty oak trees grow. They try to get the big thing right off. And that isn't the way things go. So that is another reason why you find that when you get early recognition it seems to sterilize you.”
 Richard Hamming
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