The brainbuster

Your challenge is to:

Produce the shortest (number of bytes) source code for a stand-alone Windows or Linux command line program which outputs the phrase, "We know what we are but know not what we may be." Without quotes.

You may use any compiled (not interpreted) programming language mentioned in a live (at the time) job description on the ECM website: you’ll need to quote the reference number as proof of validity.

To qualify, your answer must comprise:

  • A link to a single file of source code on pastebin or GitHub
  • A description confirming the language (and version, if appropriate) used, the platforms and tools used
  • The reference number of an ECM job in which your chosen language is listed

Only complete entry forms will be considered. The judge's decision is final.

The entries

There was a disappointingly low number of entries for this competition. On the plus side, we had hoped for at least some entries using an inventive approach, and this turned out to be the case, with our winning entry at least.

The solution

Here is the answer as given by our winner:


... a file of 19 bytes size with the name We know what we are but know not what we may be.bas. The language used is FreeBASIC-1.02.1-linux-x86_64.

If the file is copied to same directory on a Linux system where the compiler, fbc, resides an executable called bb38 can be generated by typing on the command line: ./fbc 'We know what we are but know not what we may be.bas' -x bb38

Running the executable bb38 will produce the required sentence.

The language BASIC is mentioned in the following job ad: Experienced Software Developer (022002).

And the winner is...

The winner of ecm's brainbuster no. 38 is Paul Spitteler, a scientist with a doctorate in Physics. Paul wins £200 of Amazon vouchers to spend on high-tech.

Congratulations again to Paul, and watch out for ecm's next brainbuster! Maybe we'll go for a more accessible one next time...