UVSC BYU U of U etc was"Software Engineering

Levi Pearson levi at cold.org
Fri Feb 16 16:32:56 MST 2007


Hans Fugal <hans at fugal.net> writes:
> Ok, I knew that wouldn't come across right. Physicists do of course
> build very expensive toys. But wait, they don't build them. They design
> them and hire other people to build them. I said "stuff they dream up"
> because I have no idea what current research in physics is. But whatever
> it is, it's not directly applicable to our lives. It takes an engineer
> (or someone who's both an engineer and a physicist) to bridge the gap
> from science to practice. 
>
> CS is less physical than physics, definitely more mathematical. Is CS a
> misnomer? Should we rather be called Computer Mathematics? Perhaps. But
> the point is the same. CS involves coding in the same way physics
> involves building particle accelerators. Web programming and business
> logic programming is the equivalent of making flashlights and crowbars
> (which depend on principles of physics). 

I'm sure we're in agreement here, but I'm just trying to point out
that there are eminently practical applications of both physics and
computer science, but there are also pure theory areas in each where
the sorts of tools that you use are mathematical rather than physical.
People who dream up new complexity classes and try to prove their
equivalences or differences are, as far as I can tell, roughly on the
same practicality level as the guys who are poking around the edges of
string theory in physics.  Neither needs to touch any physical
equipment to do their work, yet they are both advancing their
particular fields.

Certainly most computer science that you'll be exposed to in an
undergraduate program will deal directly with computers, and will have
some immediate practical benefit.  I think something similar can be
said of most undergraduate physics, though they may get a little
farther away from practicalities.  There just aren't any Carl Sagans
in the computer science world that bring the pure-theory CS stuff down
to a layman's view.

                --Levi



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