Amusing CompSci Lecturer Quotes!

Aah, Cambridge lectures, don't we just love 'em? Whether sanctimonious, stimulating or soporific, lectures can often be described by words beginning with 'S'. But occasionally a gem of a quote will slip from a lecturer's lips and rouse me from my stupor / distract me from computational ponderings. Here are a few of the ones that I managed to remember.

First, a few other collections of quotes... - The ultimate repository of Science and Maths quotes, from the last 12 years of Cambridge silliness. All else is but shadows thereof. (It is from Cambridge, despite being stored on a server in... Stirling, currently.) - The Official Arthur Norman homepage. ACN is responsible for most of my CompSci gems recorded below. Say no more. - Peter Taylor's collection of quotes. From Arthur Norman, Andy Pitt, and several others. The wonderful task of retrieving and carefully storing these beloved collectables continues well in Peter's hands...

And some CompScis might appreciate this: a script designed to destroy the Universe.

And now my own quote collection. This is very incomplete, but serves to illustrate the joys of Cambridge...
NB: I am not making fun of these lecturers in any way! I publicise these quotes in order to show how cool my various lecturers are. I'm a big fan of all of the men quoted here!
Maths CompSci
*Dr Korner* (Analysis, Michaelmas '98) *Arthur Norman* (Java, Lent '98)
"A theorem is just a friend you have not met yet, ...and only when it bites you on the hand do you adopt a more cautious approach" "I frequently send myself encrypted messages, but I can never decode them so I don't know what I'm talking about"
Dr Shellard (Maths Methods, Mich. '98) John Bates  (Op. Sys., Easter '98)
"Legendre invented Legendre polynomials. I know very little about him, except that he looks like a parrot." "I'm a bit like an operating system really... 'multitasking' between these two OHPs, 'interrupting' you, ... 'sending you to sleep'... "
Prof Gowers (Quadratic Maths, Mich. '98)
"I beg your pardon... No, I don't beg your pardon. A double change of mind there, sort of cancelled itself out."
The last page of John Bates' 
Operating Systems printed notes
Prof Grimmett (Markov Chains, Mich. '98)
"I'm sure this is a mistake, if only because I make one mistake each lecture and there's only ten minutes left"
Dr Brookes (Linear Maths, Mich. '98)
"You should get out your whip and make sure your supervisor performs properly"
Dr Hudson, Dr Saxl  (Algebra+Geometry, Mich. '97)
"Even an interesting tetrahedron is not the most interesting thing ever..." 
Assorted lecturers (Lent '98)
"It's somewhat difficult to explain the difference between a left hand and a right hand to someone who doesn't have hands"
Dr Sheppard-Barron (Geometry, Easter '98)
"To say that the sphere is curved and the plane is flat becomes more and more profound the more you understand the meaning of the word 'curved'." 
Assorted Supervisors (from Robinson College)
"I've now done the first two halves of the three halves of the course..."
Many of these quotes were originally recorded by Vivien Easson and later donated to this site, so credit due to her!

Computer Science

ARTHUR NORMAN  (Java, Lent '98)

Java will go, "I got an overflow! Ooh, urgle, I don't like it!"

For those of you who are into writing programs that are as obscure and complicated as possible, there are opportunities for... real fun here.

[Using &, ^, |] make it look as if you fell asleep over your keyboard and your fingers went a bit wibbly

Opium is quite counter-productive - writing programs is quite mind-bending enough, thank you very much

I like doing these things, but your mileage may vary

Very soon, I'm going to have to teach you to throw rabbits.

[Re Mandelbrot programs] You can waste an astonishing amount of time selecting exactly which part of the screen you want to view and how large you want to magnify it... Well, I have done anyway

[How to get supplies from the Computer Labs!] <puts up a colour fractal on the OHP> ...Well, one has to have some justification for having a colour printer rather than a black & white one.

Your program is totally world-unique - and really they want you to call it " thor.gloves.acn27.subdirectory.subdirectory.subdirectory.yourprogram.class"
...It is normally rather inconvenient to refer to everything by its complete full name.

When people invented Object Oriented-ness, they wanted to call them "methods" not "functions" because that didn't make them sound special enough.

All of this sounds mildly turgid and messy and confusing... but what the heck. That's what programming's all about, really.

[To describe a fighter plane] An F-... whatever the magic number is they put after it... one of those things that goes <waving hand around> WHOOSH!

...providing a plug-ability-together of the different bits the time that your program is reasonably large and ostrich-shaped

I frequently send myself encrypted messages, but I can never decode them so I don't know what I'm talking about

This is what programming is going to be about, in the... er... whatever year we're in at present

Trying to write a program that can't be written is... well, it can be an enormous amount of fun!

...<looks at Men In Black advert on OHP>...Hmm. Speaking of scum of the universe... Hello, everybody!

The way you should think of it is that the program you're trying to write is a huge lump of cheese, which you sit underneath and nibble away at...

It's not a part of Java - The Language, but definitely is a part of Java - The Life Experience.

How could I do a course on Java without mentioning the future... the wonderful clouds and sailing off, jumping out of your window having been dusted with fairy dust

I believe all Computer Scientists have a natural affinity with anything called 'lazy'

In terms of practical performance I think my extended definition of laziness is going to beat all others.

[talking of LISP, for those of you to whom that will mean anything]
...Nice round parentheses - they're so sleek and delicate

Jump to More Arthur Norman Quotes!

JOHN BATES  (Operating Systems, Easter '98)

[first thing he ever said to the lecture class] Hi, I'm John Bates - whoops, there goes my brush

Fortunately I've found a pointy thing - I was going to use this broom, but I found a pointy thing

A processor is a thing in a computer that does things, reads information and does things

Decimal is what we all use, because we've got ten fingers... I assume. Hopefully. Anyone here not got ten fingers? Oh dear.

Which end should you open an egg, the big rounded end or the small pointy end? Well, this is all about byte ordering

[at 12:55pm] This is the really exciting part now, I hope -- oh no, we've got to finish now, haven't we?

We've got the Instruction Decode & Control module here as a big blobby thing

I'm a bit like an operating system really... "multitasking" between these two OHPs, "interrupting" you, ... "sending you to sleep"...

<puts slide up on one OHP> - Ah! I'm going to use the other projector too, because it's probably getting quite lonely...

And this is the ultimate. This is the last page of notes from the last lecture in John Bates' course in the Easter Term '98. After mundane diagrams of file storage allocation systems, all of a sudden we were confronted with this!
Click to view full-size
Wonderful John Bates proceeded to lecture on this just like your average Operating Systems slide, going through the various points on the slide... "And you frequently see UNIX users wandering round the computer labs... Usually wearing sandals, often somewhat questionable trousers... You notice that they tend to have a pouch on their belts, containing a device. What sort of device it is we don't know, as we never see them take it out, but it's just there..."

Surely the all-time classic lecture hand-out?  (Especially given the rather noticeable resemblance of one of the diagrams to our esteemed Comp. Sci. Director of Studies, Alan Mycroft...)

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