Quotations about   simplification

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An intellectual is a man who says a simple thing in a difficult way; an artist is a man who says a difficult thing in a simple way.

Charles Bukowski (1920-1994) German-American author, poet
Notes of a Dirty Old Man (1969)
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Added on 14-Feb-20 | Last updated 14-Feb-20
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A lot of this was beyond him, but to people like Ridcully this didn’t matter for very long. Ridcully was simple-minded. This doesn’t mean stupid. It just meant that he could only think properly about things if he cut away all the complicated bits around the edges.

Terry Pratchett (1948-2015) English author
Reaper Man, ch. 17 (1991)
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Added on 5-May-19 | Last updated 5-May-19
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You do not really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother.

Albert Einstein (1879-1955) German-American physicist
(Attributed)

Alternate versions:
  • "If you can't explain something to a six-year-old, you really don't understand it yourself."
  • "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough."
No source found. The quote is frequently also attributed to Richard Feynman.  It is likely based on a similar quote by Ernest Rutherford.

The closest reference to it can be found in Ronald W. Clark, Einstein: The Life and Times (1972):
To de Broglie, Einstein revealed an instinctive reason for his inability to accept the purely statistical interpretation of wave mechanics. It was a reason which linked him with Rutherford, who used to state that "it should be possible to explain the laws of physics to a barmaid." Einstein, having a final discussion with de Broglie on the platform of the Gare du Nord in Paris, whence they had traveled from Brussels to attend the Fresnel centenary celebrations, said "that all physical theories, their mathematical expressions apart ought to lend themselves to so simple a description 'that even a child could understand them.'"

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Added on 15-Jul-11 | Last updated 21-Feb-21
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