Hunting Elephants

 Mathematicians : hunt elephants by going to Africa, throwing out everything that is not an elephant, and catching one of what is left.

Experienced Mathematicians : will attempt to prove the existence of at least one unique elephant before proceeding to (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 animal 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 :

a. Catch each animal seen. b. Compare each to a known elephant. c. Stop when a match is detected.

Experienced Computer Programmers : modify Algorithm A by shipping an elephant to Cairo to ensure that the Algorithm will terminate.

Assembly Language Programmers : prefer to execute Algorithm A on hands and knees.

Engineers : hunt elephants by going to Africa, catching grey animals at random, stopping only when any one of them weighs within ± 15% of any previously observed elephant.

Economists : don’t hunt elephants, believing 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 who do.

Operations Research Consultants : can measure the correlation in hat size and bullet colour to the efficiency of elephant-hunting strategies, if somebody else will first identify the elephants for them.

Polititicians : don’t hunt elephants, but will share the elephants you catch with the people who they want to vote 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 a whole herd based on the look and feel of one dropping.

Vice Presidents of Engineering (R & D) : hunt elephants, but are equiped with staff who are designed to prevent it. When the Vice President does get to hunt elephants, they will try to ensure that all elephants are prehunted before he sees them. Should he spot a non-prehunted elephant, the staff will,

(a) compliment him on his keen eyesight, and (b) 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 the mistakes the other hunters made when they 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 desk-top elephants.

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