How to Hunt Elephants Mathematicians hunt elephants by going to Africa, throwing out everything that is not an elephant, and catching one of whatever is left. Professors of mathematics prove the existence of at least one elephant and leave the capture of an actual elephant as an exercise for one of their graduate students. Computer scientists hunt elephants using 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 a. Catch each animal seen b. Compare each animal caught to a known elephant c. Stop when a match is detected. Experienced computer programmers modify Algorithm A by placing a known elephant in Cairo to ensure that the algorithm will terminate. Engineers 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, but they can be hired by the hour to advise those who do. Operations research consultants can measure the correlation of hat size and bullet color to the efficiency of elephant hunting strategies, if someone else will identify the elephants. Politicians don't hunt elephants, but they will 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 will claim that they own an entire herd based on the look and feel of one dropping. When the Vice President of R&D tries to hunt elephants, his staff will try to ensure that all elephants are completely prehunted before he sees them. If the VP sees a nonprehunted elephant, the staff will (1) Compliment the vice president's keen eyesight and (2) enlarge itself to prevent any recurrence. Senior managers set broad elephant hunting policy based on the assumption that elephants are just like field mice, but with deeper voices. Quality assurance inspectors ignore the elephants and look for mistakes the other hunters made when they were packing the jeep. Salespeople don't hunt elephants but spend their time selling elephants they haven't caught, for delivery two days before the season opens. Software salespeople ship the first thing they catch and write up an invoice for an elephant. Hardware salespeople catch rabbits, paint them gray and sell them as "desktop elephants." source: "Pachydermic Personnel Prediction" by Peter Olsen in the September 1989 edition of BYTE.