Hunting Elephants

OK. So this is old. But it’s a classic and it cracks me up everytime I read it.

How to catch an Elephant in the Africa?

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.

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 Scientists modify algorithm A by placing a known Elephant in Cairo to ensure that the algorithm will terminate.

Embedded Engineers prefer to execute algorithm A on their hands and knees.

Hardware Engineers will hunt Elephants by going to Africa, catching gray animals at random, and stopping when any one of them weighs within plus or minus 15 percent of any previously observed Elephant.

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 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 people who do.

Politicians don’t hunt Elephants, but they will promise to 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 claim that they own an entire herd based on the look and feel of one dropping.

Senior Managers set broad Elephant-hunting policy based on the assumption that Elephants are just like field mice, but with deeper voices.

Quality people ignore the Elephants and look for mistakes the other hunters made when they were packing the jeep.

Salesmen don’t hunt Elephants but spend their time selling Elephants they haven’t caught, for delivery two days before the season opens.

Finally a great Mathematician will put a small spherical cage somewhere in Africa, so that it does not contain an Elephant (which should be easy). Then, point to the encircled area and declare it as “outside”.


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