Avani (avani) wrote,


Dijsktra may be a jerk when writing papers, but, based on the 1996 commencement speech he gave at UT Austin, he's a jerk after my own heart, and I owe his ghost an apology. (link thanks to ikarpov).

His opening remarks show the Dijkstra of we know and love:

[...] In a sentimental moment, you may long for the lost innocence and bliss of ignorance, but that ignorance is lost forever: you are now Bachelors and you will have to carry the burden of your college education every waking hour of the rest of your lives, nay, even in your sleep you will be pressed to have dreams full of responsibility.

However, he goes on to say words that echo some of my own thoughts about the current academic climate:

I beg you to remember the essential role of academic openness when considering academic/industrial cooperation, I urge you to remember it whenever a government invents so-called reasons of national security or prosperity for the prevention of free publication of the results of academic research. Universities are not part of the nation's security organisation, they are not the nation's research laboratories either: they are the nation's Universities.

Much of the rest of the speech is about the value of the ivory tower model of education. While I think in practice it is non-optimal, I have nothing against the ideal of pure intellectually driven universities. I didn't expect to agree with anything in this speech, and I find myself at least appreciating almost all of it.

Finally, he ends with a sentiment that I'd like to remember:

May, in spite of all distractions generated by technology, all of you succeed in turning information into knowledge, knowledge into understanding, and understanding into wisdom.

Tags: grad, thoughts

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