Words to live by

I do what I do, and I don’t plan how I ought to do it. I never have. I don’t believe in being rigid about anything. If I see an opportunity, I will drop all the rules, even when doing so is probably a mistake. –John Cocke, inventor of RISC
I’d never heard of John Cocke until he died, but that figures. Since I didn’t major in CS or EE, there are a lot of important people I’ve never heard of. But the father of virtually every non-x86 CPU still standing died this past week at age 77. Like many geniuses, he was eccentric and didn’t like to be bothered with mundane, everyday stuff. And like many geniuses, he didn’t think about his methods much.

I found the above quote in this 1999 IEEE interview. He lost me when he started talking about reconfigurable computing and quantum computing. But it’s worth a read, if only to gain some insight into how a great mind thinks.

As well as some practical advice: If something comes so naturally that you can do it without thinking about it, then don’t. You’ll recover quickly from the mistakes and learn from them. And the moves that look foolish at first will look inspired when they work.

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