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computer science

What is Computer Science, anyway?

There’s a predictable kerfluffle of an exchange on Slashdot over the state of computer science education, prompted by yet another article declaring the death of computer science. Per normal, the Slashdot discussion is fairly equal parts tedious, inane, obvious, and shrill.

Much of it boiled down to rehashing the differences between computer science (too much math, according to the Real-World Programmers, not enough according to the electrical engineers), programming (vocational training for those who can’t cut it in computer science, according to the computer scientists), electrical engineering (for those who can’t understand or appreciate algorithmic analysis, again according to the computer scientists), and computer engineers (nobody seems to be quite sure where they fit).

Instead of leaping into the fray, I’ll just mention my favorite quote about what comp sci is not. Edsgar Dijkstra is said to have said,

Computer science is no more about computers than astronomy is about telescopes.

There are fascinating classes of ideas out there that we couldn’t start to discuss until computers had been invented . . . computer science is the exploration of those new frontiers.

(Scan from How it Works: The Computer is courtesy of gillicious.)

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