Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

Archive for November 15th, 2015

Thinking without a pencil

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Edsger W. Dijkstra

What’s the shortest way to travel from Rotterdam to Groningen? It is the algorithm for the shortest path, which I designed in about twenty minutes. One morning I was shopping in Amsterdam with my young fiancée, and tired, we sat down on the café terrace to drink a cup of coffee and I was just thinking about whether I could do this, and I then designed the algorithm for the shortest path. As I said, it was a twenty-minute invention…One of the reasons that it is so nice was that I designed it without pencil and paper. Without pencil and paper you are almost forced to avoid all avoidable complexities.

Edsger W. Dijkstra, to Communications of the ACM

Written by nevalalee

November 15, 2015 at 7:30 am

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