Muli Ben-Yehuda's journal

August 13, 2004

Richard Hamming – You and Your Research

Filed under: Uncategorized — Muli Ben-Yehuda @ 11:26 PM

“How do I obey Newton’s rule? He said, “If I have seen further than others, it is because I’ve stood on the shoulders of giants.” These days we stand on each other’s feet!”

Richard Hamming (Hamming Distance, Hamming Code), in a talk titled “You and Your Research”. Recommended! (via lispmeister).


  1. Little-known fact. That statement was actually intended as a not-too-subtle jab at one of Newton’s many enemies (at least, in his own mind), Robert Hooke, who was tall.

    Comment by zenmonkeykstop — August 13, 2004 @ 1:48 PM | Reply

    • I’ve read something about this, although I can’t recall where, at the moment. Got a handy reference?

      Comment by mulix — August 13, 2004 @ 1:57 PM | Reply

      • Nope. Can’t recall either. Embarrassing half-thought that it might be in the Quicksilver Wiki.

        Comment by zenmonkeykstop — August 13, 2004 @ 2:16 PM

      • not quicksilver, but a wiki

        He once said, in a letter to Hooke dated 5 February 1676, “If I have seen further it is by standing on ye shoulders of Giants” though this apparent modesty was barbed; Hooke was a man of short stature.
        Got it half-right then.

        Comment by zenmonkeykstop — August 13, 2004 @ 2:19 PM

      • Re: not quicksilver, but a wiki
        Now I’ll have to reread Quicksilver & The Confusion again to see if it’s mentioend there as well 😉

        Comment by mulix — August 13, 2004 @ 2:40 PM

      • I don’t recall any reference to it – but I believe an Amazon inside-the-book search would help you find out for sure.
        BTW, I was fascinated by your review of the second part in the series. Tell me more (without spoilers, pretty-please) – I’m a fan of his writing since Snowcrash.

        Comment by shunra — August 13, 2004 @ 5:20 PM

      • The Confusion is recommended. It’s like Quicksilver was a huge prologue, setting the stage and introducing the characters and the period. With Confusion, there’s also a story (2 stories, actually, interleaved), and that makes all the difference… Have you read Quicksilver?

        Comment by mulix — August 14, 2004 @ 7:04 AM

      • Oh, yes, I’ve read Quicksilver. And it was a harder slog than most of his novels, and the characters were harder to deal with, and I *still* have nightmares about dogs 😦
        Is there less cruelty to animals in The Confusion?

        Comment by shunra — August 14, 2004 @ 8:44 AM

      • Yep. It’s still a faithful depiction (I think…) of that period, but no impromptu animal surgery that I can recall…

        Comment by mulix — August 15, 2004 @ 2:15 AM

  2. Hamming Code ??
    Oh my gawd, takes me back to when I was a freshman.

    Comment by 77azkkr — August 13, 2004 @ 6:26 PM | Reply

    • Hey, I actually enjoyed that stuff. It was just puzzles that needed to be solved, and the math wasn’t too complicated, so I was actually able to wrap my head around it (unlike a lot of other stuff…)

      Comment by mulix — August 14, 2004 @ 7:02 AM | Reply

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