09w02:1 Edsger W. Dijkstra

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Edsger W. Dijkstra | Wikipedia
“Dijkstra was known for his habit of carefully composing manuscripts with his fountain pen. The manuscripts are called EWDs, since Dijkstra numbered them with EWD as prefix. Dijkstra would distribute photocopies of a new EWD among his colleagues; as many recipients photocopied and forwarded their copy, the EWDs spread throughout the international computer science community. The topics were mainly computer science and mathematics, but also included trip reports, letters, and speeches. More than 1300 EWDs have since been scanned, with a growing number also transcribed to facilitate search, and are available online at the Dijkstra archive of the University of Texas.”

Edsger W. Dijkstra | University of Texas

Video and audio page:

NPR interview (1995)

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

(the above three videos can be downloaded directly from here :
300 MB Quicktime MPEG)

On the fact that the Atlantic Ocean has two sides | Edsger W. Dijkstra (1982)
(Scanned PDF version)
“A very useful measure is —called after its inventor— the “Buxton Index”. John N. Buxton discovered that the most important one-dimensional scale along which persons are institutions to be compared, can be placed is the length of the period of time in the future for which a person or institution plans. This period, measured in years, gives the Buxton Index. For the little shopkeeper around the corner the Buxton Index is three-quarter, for a true Christian it is infinite, we marry with one near fifty, most larger companies have one of about five, most scientist have one between two and ten. (For a scientist it is hard to have a larger one: the future then becomes so hazy, that effective planning becomes an illusion.) […] My overall impression is that along this scale —which is not entirely independent of the Buxton Index— Europe, for better or for worse, is more Platonic, whereas the USA, and Canada to a lesser extent, are more pragmatic. […]The third phenomenon that goes hand in hand with a greater pragmatism is that universities are seen less as seats of learning and centres of intellectual innovation and more as schools preparing students for well-paid jobs. If industry and government ask for the wrong type of people —students, brain-washed by COBOL and FORTRAN— that is then what they get.”

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