Leslie Lamport

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Thinking doesn't guarantee that we won't make mistakes. But not thinking guarantees that we will.

Leslie Lamport (born February 7, 1941) is an American computer scientist and mathematician. Lamport is best known for his seminal work in distributed systems, and as the initial developer of the document preparation system LaTeX and the author of its first manual. Lamport was the winner of the 2013 Turing Award for imposing clear, well-defined coherence on the seemingly chaotic behavior of distributed computing systems, in which several autonomous computers communicate with each other by passing messages. He devised important algorithms and developed formal modeling and verification protocols that improve the quality of real distributed systems. These contributions have resulted in improved correctness, performance, and reliability of computer systems.


As quoted in Teresa K. Attwood; Stephen R. Pettifer; David Thorne (26 September 2016). Bioinformatics Challenges at the Interface of Biology and Computer Science: Mind the Gap. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 266–. ISBN 978-0-470-03548-1. 
  • I think in other things that I've done, I can look back and see: "This idea developed from something else." Sometimes it would lead back to a previous idea of mine, very often it would lead to something somebody else had done. But the Bakery algorithm just seemed to come out of thin air to me. There was nothing like it that preceded it, so perhaps that's why I'm proudest of it.
  • The first thing is deciding what the program should do. If you don’t think carefully about that, it’s going to wind up not doing something that it probably should do or you wind up with an ‘absolute bug-free program’. Because to have a bug, you have to have some notion of what it means for the program to be operating correctly. And there is no precise definition of what it means for the program to be correctly operating — so, well, no bugs. Not a very good situation.
  • With so many people doing so much writing, great writing is hard to find ... If you succeed in attaining a position that allows you to do something great, if you do something that really is great, and if you realize that it’s great, there’s still one more hurdle: You have to convince others that it’s great. This will require writing.
  • Thinking doesn't guarantee that we won't make mistakes. But not thinking guarantees that we will.
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