Funny Computer laws – quotes

Amdahl’s Law: The speed-up achievable on a parallel computer can be significantly limited by the existence of a small fraction of inherently sequential code which cannot be parallelised. (Gene Amdahl)

Augustine’s Second Law of Socioscience: For every scientific (or engineering) action, there is an equal and opposite social reaction. (Norman Augustine)

Benford’s Law: Passion is inversely proportional to the amount of real information available. (Gregory Benford)

Brooks’ Law: Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later. (Frederick P Brooks Jr)

Church-Turing Thesis: Every function which would naturally be regarded as computable can be computed by the universal Turing machine.

Clarke’s First Law: When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong. (Arthur C Clarke)

Clarke’s Second Law: The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible. (Arthur C Clarke)

Clarke’s Third Law: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. (Arthur C Clarke)

Conway’s Law: If you have four groups working on a compiler, you’ll get a 4-pass compiler. (Melvin Conway)

Cope’s Law: There is a general tendency toward size increase in evolution. (Edward Drinker Cope)

Dilbert Principle: The most ineffective workers are systematically moved to the place where they can do the least damage: management. (Scott Adams)

Deutsch’s Seven Fallacies of Distributed Computing: Reliable delivery; Zero latency; Infinite bandwidth; Secure transmissions; Stable topology; Single adminstrator; Zero cost. (Peter Deutsch)

Ellison’s Law: The userbase for strong cryptography declines by half with every additional keystroke or mouseclick required to make it work. (Carl Ellison)

Ellison’s Law: The two most common elements in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity. (Harlan Ellison)

Ellison’s Law: Once the business data have been centralized and integrated, the value of the database is greater than the sum of the preexisting parts. (Larry Ellison)

Finagle’s Law: Anything that can go wrong, will. (?Larry Niven)

Fisher’s Fundamental Theorem: The more highly adapted an organism becomes, the less adaptable it is to any new change. (R A Fisher)

Fitts’s Law: The movement time required for tapping operations is a linear function of the log of the ratio of the distance to the target divided by width of the target. (Paul Fitts)


Flon’s axiom: There does not now, nor will there ever, exist a programming language in which it is the least bit hard to write bad programs. (Lawrence Flon)

Gilder’s Law: Bandwidth grows at least three times faster than computer power. (George Gilder)

Godwin’s Law: As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one. (Mike Godwin)

Grosch’s Law: The cost of computing systems increases as the square root of the computational power of the systems. (Herbert Grosch)

Grove’s Law: Telecommunications bandwidth doubles every century. (Andy Grove)

Hanlon’s Law: Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity. (?Robert Heinlein)

Hartree’s Law: Whatever the state of a project, the time a project-leader will estimate for completition is constant. (Douglas Hartree)

Heisenbug Uncertainty Principle: Most production software bugs are soft: they go away when you look at them. (Jim Gray)

Hick’s Law: The time to choose between a number of alternative targets is a function of the number of targets and is related logarithmically. (W E Hick)

Hoare’s Law: Inside every large problem is a small problem struggling to get out. (Charles Hoare)

Hofstadter’s Law: It always takes longer than you think, even when you take Hofstadter’s Law into account. (Douglas Hofstadter)

Jakob’s Law of the Internet User Experience: Users spend most of their time on other websites. (Jakob Nielsen)

Joy’s Law: Computing power of the fastest microprocessors, measured in MIPS, increases exponentially in time. (Bill Joy)

Kerckhoff’s Principle: Security resides solely in the key. (Auguste Kerckhoff)

Kurzweil’s Law of Accelerating Returns: As order exponentially increases, time exponentially speeds up (that is, the time interval between salient events grows shorter as time passes). (Ray Kurzweil)

Law of the Conservation of Catastrophe: The solutions to one crisis pave the way for some equal or greater future disaster. (William McNeill)

Law of False Alerts: As the rate of erroneous alerts increases, operator reliance, or belief, in subsequent warnings decreases. (George Spafford)

Lister’s Law: People under time pressure don’t think faster. (Timothy Lister)

Lloyd’s Hypothesis: Everything that’s worth understanding about a complex system, can be understood in terms of how it processes information. (Seth Lloyd)

Metcalfe’s Law: The value of a network grows as the square of the number of its users. (Robert Metcalfe)

Moore’s Law: Transistor die sizes are cut in half every 24 months. Therefore, both the number of transistors on a chip and the speed of each transistor double every 18 (or 12 or 24) months. (Gordon Moore)

Murphy’s Law: If there are two or more ways to do something, and one of those ways can result in a catastrophe, then someone will do it. (Edward A Murphy)

Nathan’s First Law: Software is a gas; it expands to fill its container. (Nathan Myhrvold)

Ninety-ninety Law: The first 90% of the code accounts for the first 90% of the development time. The remaining 10% of the code accounts for the other 90% of the development time. (Tom Cargill)

Occam’s Razor: The explanation requiring the fewest assumptions is most likely to be correct. (William of Occam)

Osborn’s Law: Variables won’t; constants aren’t. (Don Osborn)

Parkinson’s Law: Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. (C Northcote Parkinson)

Pareto Principle: 20% of the people own 80% of the country’s assets. (Corollary: 20% of the effort generates 80% of the results.) (Vilfredo Pareto)

Pesticide Paradox: Every method you use to prevent or find bugs leaves a residue of subtler bugs against which those methods are ineffectual. (Bruce Beizer)

Peter Principle: In a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence. (Laurence J Peter)

Red Queen Principle: For an evolutionary system, continuing development is needed just in order to maintain its fitness relative to the system it is co-evolving with. (Leigh van Valen)

Rock’s Law: The cost of semiconductor fabrication equipment doubles every four years. (Arthur Rock)

Rule of 1950: The probability that automated decisions systems will be adopted is approximately one divided by one plus the number of individuals involved in the approval process who were born in 1950 or before squared. (Frank Demmler)

Sixty-sixty Law: Sixty percent of software’s dollar is spent on maintenance, and sixty percent of that maintenance is enhancement. (Robert Glass)

Spector’s Law: The time it takes your favorite application to complete a given task doubles with each new revision. (Lincoln Spector)

Sturgeon’s Law: Ninety percent of everything is crap. (Theodore Sturgeon)

Tesler’s Law of Conservation of Complexity: You cannot reduce the complexity of a given task beyond a certain point. Once you’ve reached that point, you can only shift the burden around. (Larry Tesler)

Tesler’s Theorem: Artificial Intelligence is whatever hasn’t been done yet. (Larry Tesler)

Weibull’s Power Law: The logarithm of failure rates increases linearly with the logarithm of age. (Waloddi Weibull)

Weinberg’s Law: If builders built buildings the way programmers wrote programs, then the first woodpecker that came along would destroy civilization. (Gerald M Weinberg)

Wirth’s Law: Software gets slower faster than hardware gets faster. (Nicklaus Wirth)

Zawinski’s Law: Every program attempts to expand until it can read mail. Those programs which cannot so expand are replaced by ones which can. (Jamie Zawinski)

Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics:

A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
A robot must obey orders given to it by a human being except where such orders would conflict with the first law.
A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the first or second law.

Isaac Asimov’s Zeroth Law of Robotics:

A robot may not injure humanity, or, through inaction, allow humanity to come to harm.

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