public traverse(node)
  if (node == null)

public visit(node)
  //Look at node

public absurd()
  return 1/0

public main()

This pseudocode represents a famous quote, what is that quote?

  • $\begingroup$ There's always room for more! $\endgroup$ Commented May 24, 2016 at 22:46

3 Answers 3


Could it be

"Only he who attempts the absurd is capable of achieving the impossible.", from Unamuno, attributed as a sort of response to Cervantes, Sólo el que ensaya lo absurdo es capaz de conquistar lo imposible.

To fit the rebus more precisely, though, we must use a misattributed variation of the quote:

"In order to attain the impossible, one must attempt the absurd."
Miguel de Cervantes

This variation fits slightly better, per @Mohit Jain's reasoning (the only difference being the "inorder" node traversal)

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ This fits well ... to a little less than half of the code. Is the tree-traversal stuff just a red herring? $\endgroup$
    – Gareth McCaughan
    Commented May 24, 2016 at 20:43
  • $\begingroup$ I posted the original quote, which is apparently part of the intended answer. I've been literally underground since then, though $\endgroup$ Commented May 24, 2016 at 20:55
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Sorry, I'm now feeling very stupid. Apparently how? (Is there some out-of-band discussion going on?) Underground for ... the 50 minutes between posting the answer and the comment? What does any of that have to do with the tree-traversal code in the question having nothing to do with the quotation? (For the avoidance of doubt, none of this is intended as complaint or criticism, and the Unamuno quotation fits half the question so well that it seems likely to be right. I'm just confused.) $\endgroup$
    – Gareth McCaughan
    Commented May 24, 2016 at 21:03
  • $\begingroup$ @gareth ah, yeah, sorry - in the puzzles, etc. chat, the op indicated it was the right quote but missing something. I've just been on my way home in the time since so I've been unable to figure out which version of the quote is the one op is looking for $\endgroup$ Commented May 24, 2016 at 21:06
  • $\begingroup$ aha, understood. $\endgroup$
    – Gareth McCaughan
    Commented May 24, 2016 at 21:07

I think the answer is:

In order to attain the impossible, one must attempt the absurd.
Miguel de Cervantes

And the reason is:

traverse(node) -> Inorder traversal
try(absurd()) -> Attempt the absurd
catch(impossible) -> Impossible (attain is synonym of reach)

How did I find it:

Search for the words "in order absurd impossible" on google and follow the first link.

  • $\begingroup$ This is the correct answer, but I think question_asker had enough of the answer prior to get accepted, +1 though $\endgroup$ Commented May 25, 2016 at 12:41
  • $\begingroup$ @GordonAllocman Thanks. Though I figured it out independently, I had no knowledge of the origin of quote and I relied completely on Google result. $\endgroup$
    – Mohit Jain
    Commented May 26, 2016 at 5:42


"Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth."
- Sherlock Holmes (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)

But I'm not sure it matches that well...

  • $\begingroup$ Well, the code does look at what's left... $\endgroup$
    – paste
    Commented May 24, 2016 at 20:24
  • $\begingroup$ This seems to be almost the reverse of what's going on, though. $\endgroup$ Commented May 24, 2016 at 20:29

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