Hunting an Elephant in the 90s

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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 Algorithm A:

  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 west.
  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 Algorithm A 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.

DATABASE ADMINISTRATORS do not need to go out and capture elephants when they
can retrieve them simply with an ad hoc query:


ENGINEERS hunt elephants by going to Africa, catching grey animals at
random, and stopping when any one of them weighs within plus or minus 15
percent of any previously observed elephant.

SYSTEMS INTEGRATION ENGINEERS are not so concerned with hunting elephants as
with creating a seamless interface between the elephants and their

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

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 colour 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.

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 see a non-pre-hunted elephant, (in other
words, a live one) the staff will:

  1. Compliment the vice president's keen eyesight
  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 elephant.

HARDWARE SALES PEOPLE catch rabbits, paint them grey, and sell them as
desktop elephants.

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