The Hunting of Elephants
MATHEMATICIANS hunt elephants by going to Africa, throwing out everything that is not
an elephant, and catching one of whatever is left.
EXPERIENCED MATHEMATICIANS will attempt to prove the existence of at least one
unique elephant before proceeding to step 1 as a subordinate exercise.
PROFESSORS OF MATHEMATICS will prove the existence of at least one unique
elephant and then leave the detection and capture of an actual elephant as an exercise for
their graduate students.
COMPUTER SCIENTISTS hunt elephants by exercising this Algorithm:
1.Go to Africa.
2.Start at the Cape of Good Hope.
3.Work northward in an orderly manner, traversing the continent alternately east and
4.During each traverse pass,
1.Catch each animal seen.
2.Compare each animal caught to a known elephant.
3.Stop when a match is detected.
EXPERIENCED COMPUTER PROGRAMMERS modify this Algorithm by placing a
known elephant in Cairo to ensure that the algorithm will terminate.
ASSEMBLY LANGUAGE PROGRAMMERS prefer to execute Algorithm A on their
hands and knees.
HARDWARE ENGINEERS hunt elephants by going to Africa, catching gray animals at
random, and stopping when any one of them weighs within plus or minus 15 percent of any
previously observed elephant.
ECONOMISTS don't hunt elephants, but they believe that if elephants are paid enough, they
will hunt themselves.
STATISTICIANS hunt the first animal they see N times and call it an elephant.
CONSULTANTS don't hunt elephants, and many have never hunted anything at all, but they
can be hired by the hour to advise those people who do.
OPERATIONS RESEARCH CONSULTANTS can also measure the correlation of hat
size and bullet color to the efficiency of elephant-hunting strategies, if someone else will only
identify the elephants.
POLITICIANS don't hunt elephants, but they will share the elephants you catch with the
people who voted for them.
LAWYERS don't hunt elephants, but they do follow the herds around arguing about who
owns the droppings.
SOFTWARE LAWYERS will claim that they own an entire herd based on the look and feel
of one dropping.
VICE PRESIDENTS OF ENGINEERING, RESEARCH, AND DEVELOPMENT try
hard to hunt elephants, but their staffs are designed to prevent it.When the vice president
does get to hunt elephants, the staff will try to ensure that all possible elephants are
completely prehunted before the vice president sees them. If the vice president does happen
to see a elephant, the staff will:
1.compliment the vice president's keen eyesight and
2.enlarge itself to prevent any recurrence.
SENIOR MANAGERS set broad elephant-hunting policy based on the assumption that
elephants are just like field mice, but with deeper voices.
QUALITY ASSURANCE INSPECTORS ignore the elephants and look for mistakes the
other hunters made when they were packing the jeep.
SALES PEOPLE don't hunt elephants but spend their time selling elephants they haven't
caught, for delivery two days before the season opens.
SOFTWARE SALES PEOPLE ship the first thing they catch and write up an invoice for an
HARDWARE SALES PEOPLE catch rabbits, paint them gray, and sell them as desktop