## CATCHING AN ELEPHANT

(Unknown source)

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.

PROFESSORS OF MATHEMATICS will prove the existence of at least one unique elephant and then leave the detection and capture of an actual elephant as an exercise for their graduate students.

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, 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.

DATABASE ADMINISTRATORS do not need to go out and capture elephants when they can retrieve them simply with an ad hoc query:
SELECT * FROM AFRICAN_CRITTERS
WHERE CRITTER_TYPE = 'TERRESTRIAL' AND SIZE = 'LARGE'
AND COLOR = 'GRAY' AND TRUNK = 'YES' AND ODOR IS NOT NULL;

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.

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 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.

HARDWARE SALES PEOPLE catch rabbits, paint them gray, and sell them as desktop elephants.