# how many ways are there to catch an elephant

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.

ASSEMBLY LANGUAGE PROGRAMMERS
prefer to execute Algorithm A on their hands and knees.

HARDWARE 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, and many have never hunted anything at all, but they can be hired by the hour to advise those people who do.

OPERATIONS RESEARCH CONSULTANTS
can also measure the correlation of hat size and bullet color to the efficiency of elephant-hunting strategies, if someone else will only 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.

VICE PRESIDENTS OF ENGINEERING, RESEARCH, AND DEVELOPMENT
try hard to hunt elephants, but their staffs are designed to prevent it. When the vice president does get to hunt elephants, the staff will try to ensure that all possible elephants are completely prehunted before the vice president sees them. If the vice president does happen to see a elephant, the staff will:

• compliment the vice president’s keen eyesight and
• 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.

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

SOFTWARE SALES PEOPLE
ship the first thing they catch and write up an invoice for an elephant.

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