Niklaus Wirth

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Software gets slower faster than hardware gets faster.

Niklaus E. Wirth (15 February 19341 January 2024) was a Swiss computer scientist and winner of the 1984 Turing Award. He is best known for designing several programming languages, including Pascal, and for pioneering several classic topics in software engineering.


  • Go To statement considered harmful.
  • In our profession, precision and perfection are not a dispensable luxury, but a simple necessity.
  • Reliable and transparent programs are usually not in the interest of the designer.
  • ... we do not consider it as good engineering practice to consume a resource lavishly just because it happens to be cheap.

Program Development by Stepwise Refinement (1971)[edit]

(April 1971). "Program Development by Stepwise Refinement". Communications of the ACM 14 (4): pp. 221-227. Retrieved on 2008-05-22.

  • As a matter of fact, the adaptability of a program to changes in its objectives (often called maintainability) and to changes in its environment (nowadays called portability) can be measured primarily in terms of the degree to which it is neatly structured.
  • But active programming consists of the design of new programs, rather than contemplation of old programs.
  • Clearly, programming courses should teach methods of design and construction, and the selected examples should be such that a gradual development can be nicely demonstrated.
  • During the process of stepwise refinement, a notation which is natural to the problem in hand should be used as long as possible.
  • Experience shows that the success of a programming course critically depends on the choice of these examples.
  • In the practical world of computing, it is rather uncommon that a program, once it performs correctly and satisfactorily, remains unchanged forever.
  • Programming is usually taught by examples.

Quotes about Niklaus Wirth[edit]

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