Thursday, April 29, 2010

How to hunt elephants.

Post 477 - Bill Garrett from the University of North Carolina once claimed that you could tell a lot about people by researching how they hunted elephants. Here are some of his findings:

- Mathematicians hunt elephants by going to Africa, throwing out everything that is not an elephant, and catching one of whatever is left.

- Computer scientists hunt elephants by exercising Algorithm A:
1. Go to Africa.
2. Start at the Cape of Good Hope.
3. Work northward in an orderly manner, traversing the continent alternately East and West.
4. During each traverse pass,
(a) catch each animal seen.
(b) Compare each animal caught to a known elephant.
(c) Stop when a match is detected.

- Experienced programmers modify algorithm A by placing a known elephant in Cairo to make sure the algorithm will terminate.

- Engineers hunt elephants by going to Africa, catching grey animals and stopping when any one of them weighs within plus or minus 15 percent of any previously observed elephants.

- Economists don't hunt elephants, but they believe that if elephants are paid enough, they'll hunt themselves.

- Statisticians hunt the first animal they see n times and call it an elephant.

- Consultants don't hunt elephants, and many have never hunted anything at all, but they can be hired by the hour to advise those people who do.

- Politicians don't hunt elephants, but will share the elephants you catch with the people who voted for them.

- Lawyers don't hunt elephants, but they do follow the herds around arguing about who owns the droppings.

- Quality assurance inspectors ignore the elephants and look for mistakes the other hunters made when they were packing the jeep.

- Salespeople don't hunt elephants, but spend their time selling elephants they haven't caught, for delivery two days before the hunting season opens.

- Software salespeople ship the first thing they catch and write up an invoice for an elephant.

- Vice presidents of R & D try hard to hunt elephants but their staffs are designed to prevent it. If and when they do get to hunt elephants, the staff will try to ensure that all possible elephants and completely pre-hunted before the vice president sees them.

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