Quotations about:
    efficiency


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You know that I write slowly. This is chiefly because I am never satisfied until I have said as much as possible in a few words, and writing briefly takes far more time than writing at length.

[Sie wissen, dass ich langsam schreibe, allein dies kommt hauptsächlich daher, weil ich mir nie anders gefallen kann, als wenn in kleinem Raum möglichst viel ist, und kurz zu schreiben viel mehr Zeit kostet als lang.]

Carl Friedrich Gauss
Carl Friedrich Gauss (1777-1855) German mathematician, geodesist, physicist [Carolus Fridericus Gauss]
Letter to Heinrich Christian Schumacher (1833-04-02)

The letter, in German, can be found in Christian August Friedrich Peters (ed.), Briefwechsel zwischen C. F. Gauss und H. C. Schumacher, Vol. 2 (1860).

The English translation source for this quotation is obscure. It is quoted, without citation, in H. Merschkowski, Ways of Thought of Great Mathematicians (1964) and, more recently, G. Simmons, Calculus Gems (1992), and is usually referenced to one of those two books.
 
Added on 8-Jan-24 | Last updated 8-Jan-24
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That society is badly arranged which forces nearly all women to be servants.

Henri Barbusse
Henri Barbusse (1873-1935) French novelist, poet, journalist, activist
Light, ch. 23 (1919)
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Added on 21-Aug-23 | Last updated 21-Aug-23
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Learn how to cook! That’s my invariable answer when I am asked to give forth with money-saving recipes, economy tips, budget gourmet dinner menus for six people under ten dollars, and the like. Learn how to cook! That’s the way to save money. You don’t save it buying hamburger helpers, and prepared foods; you save it buying fresh foods in season or in large supply, when they are cheapest and usually best, and you prepare them from scratch at home. Why pay for someone else’s work, when if you know how to do it, you can save all that money for yourself? Knowing how to do it also means doing it fast, and preparing parts of a dish or a meal whenever you have a spare moment in the kitchen. That way, cooking well doesn’t take a great deal of time, and when you cook well, you’ll be eating far better meals than you could buy from the freezer, or at a restaurant.

Julia Child
Julia Child (1912-2004) American chef and writer
Julia Child’s Kitchen, Introduction (1975)
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Added on 11-May-23 | Last updated 11-May-23
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Parents should work together as efficiently as two bookends.

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Marcelene Cox (1900-1998) American writer, columnist, aphorist
“Ask Any Woman” column, Ladies’ Home Journal (1957-08)
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Added on 23-Jan-23 | Last updated 27-Mar-23
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Efficiency is a thief of time when it leaves no leisure.

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Marcelene Cox (1900-1998) American writer, columnist, aphorist
“Ask Any Woman” column, Ladies’ Home Journal (1949-02)
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Added on 13-Sep-22 | Last updated 27-Mar-23
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I divide my officers into four classes: the clever, the lazy, the industrious, and the stupid. Each officer possesses at least two of these qualities. Those who are clever and industrious are fitted for the highest staff appointments. Use can be made of those who are stupid and lazy. The man who is clever and lazy however is for the very highest command; he has the temperament and nerves to deal with all situations. But whoever is stupid and industrious is a menace and must be removed immediately!

Kurt von Hammerstein-Equord (1878-1943) German general
(Attributed)

Possibly apocryphal. Quoted (unconfirmed) in Horst Poller, Bewältigte Vergangenheit. Das 20. Jahrhundert, erlebt, erlitten, gestaltet [Conquered Past. The 20th century, witnessed, endured, shaped] (2010). Sometimes cited to Truppenführung [Troop Leading] (1933), the German Army Field Manual, but not found there. Also attributed to Erich von Manstein.
 
Added on 4-May-20 | Last updated 4-May-20
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For my part I think that capitalism, wisely managed, can probably be made more efficient for attaining economic ends than any alternative system yet in sight, but that in itself it is in many ways extremely objectionable.

John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) English economist
“The End of Laissez-faire,” sec. 5 (1926)
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Added on 31-Jan-17 | Last updated 31-Jan-17
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In nature nothing is done but in the cheapest way.

Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
Journal (1839-02-07)
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Added on 28-Nov-16 | Last updated 27-Mar-23
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To reform man was a tedious and uncertain labor: now hanging was the sure work of a minute.

Douglas William Jerrold (1803-1857) English playwright and humorist
The History of St. Giles and St. James, ch. 15 (1845)
 
Added on 22-Sep-16 | Last updated 22-Sep-16
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Competition brings out the best in products and the worst in people.

Sarnoff - competition - wist_info quote

David Sarnoff (1881-1971) Belarusian-American businessman and broadcasting executive
(Attributed)
 
Added on 10-Feb-16 | Last updated 10-Feb-16
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Shoot straight you bastards. Don’t make a mess of it.

(Other Authors and Sources)
Harry “Breaker” Morant, to the firing squad (27 Feb 1902)
 
Added on 20-Aug-14 | Last updated 20-Aug-14
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The secret of my incredible energy and efficiency in getting work done is a simple one. I have based it very deliberately on a well-known psychological principle and have refined it so that it is now almost too refined. I shall have to begin coarsening it up again pretty soon. The psychological principle is this: anyone can do any amount of work, provided it isn’t the work he is supposed to be doing at that moment.

Robert Benchley (1889-1945) American humorist
“How to Get Things Done,” Chicago Tribune (2 Feb 1930)
 
Added on 3-Sep-11 | Last updated 22-Apr-21
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Everyone confesses that exertion which brings out all the powers of body and mind is the best thing for us; but most people do all they can to get rid of it, and as a general rule nobody does much more than circumstances drive them to do.

Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) American author
“The Lady Who Does Her Own Work,” Atlantic Monthly (1864)
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 17-Dec-13
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There is no doubt that the “grail” of efficiency leads to abuse. Programmers waste enormous amounts of time thinking about, or worrying about, the speed of noncritical parts of their programs, and these attempts at efficiency actually have a strong negative impact when debugging and maintenance are considered. We should forget about small efficiencies, say about 97% of the time: premature optimization is the root of all evil.

Donald E. Knuth (b. 1938) American computer scientist, mathematician, academic
“Structured Programming with go to Statements,” ACM Journal Computing Surveys (Dec 1974)
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 13-Oct-20
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I recommend to you to take care of the minutes; for hours will take care of themselves.

Lord Chesterfield (1694-1773) English statesman, wit [Philip Dormer Stanhope]
Letter to his son, #131 (6 Nov 1747)
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Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 18-Oct-22
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