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question about computer science

Sasha Hernandez
Greenhorn

Joined: Oct 14, 2003
Posts: 21
Is computer science considered to be a science? I was just curious because many computer science programs require one to take science courses that are geared for science majors.
Eric Pascarello
author
Rancher

Joined: Nov 08, 2001
Posts: 15376
    
    6
I was told that certain courses are ment to make you think in a structured manner. The whole proof process with laws and theories is supposed to make you think in a set manner.

I was a ME major not a CS and I had a lot of classes and had no idea how they linked to my major!

Eric
Don Kiddick
Ranch Hand

Joined: Dec 12, 2002
Posts: 580
Computing is a broad subject these days. The majority of it I would class as being scientific.
Ko Ko Naing
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Joined: Jun 08, 2002
Posts: 3178
Originally posted by Sasha Hernandez:
because many computer science programs require one to take science courses that are geared for science majors.


For instance?


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Ellen Zhao
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Joined: Sep 17, 2002
Posts: 581
Is computer science considered to be a science?


Yes. Today's CS is based on modern mathematics thus itself has characters that can be identified as science. But CS is a very special kind of science. While the applied theory of cs so far is mathematically valid, I don't feel like putting cs together with sciences like physics, chemistry, biology...First, strictly speaking, cs deals only with mathematics(algorithms), especially discrete mathematics, it doesn't care how the mathematics related to the real world at all. But the science of nature has to observe the real world. Then, in 1936 Church and Turing made the foundation of the modern computing's model. From today's point of view, to some extent their theory is kinda too "wide"( almost all problems we deal with lie in the set of "NP Complete Problems", a very productive developer doesn't use the NP theory all the time, rather very very rarely(if you work at an academical research centre then it's another story) ) or too "narrow" ( it cannot rule the other ways of computing, say, bio-computing, quantum- computing which are being developed today), so, for the matter of the influence/directing to the real-world practice, compare Newton's laws to Church-Turing theory, you see the difference. Anyway it's really great of Church and Turing that they found out a way in the world of math for us to make computing efficient.

many computer science programs require one to take science courses that are geared for science majors.


I think those science courses are for applying of the cs. As I've said the pure cs deals only with math, boilt down, it only cares about:

1. This problem can be (efficiently) solved or not?
2. If yes, how to solve it efficiently in the sense of both room and time?

Then where does those "problems" mentioned above come? Real world. Science of nature might be the biggest source and I believe today also many economic problems. Being aware of the science of nature, then you are able to model the problems in a mathematical manner and make computer do the dirty numeric computing for you.

In my opinion, computer scientists are in fact mathematicans.
[ July 09, 2004: Message edited by: Ellen Zhao ]
Joe King
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 02, 2003
Posts: 820
Like all things we do in life, computing is a mixture of science and art, that is a mixture of reasoning and creativity. There is no single planned act that we do that is not, in some form, both science and art. In the learning and application of the grammar of programming languages, the formulation of structures and algorithms is the science. In the creation of efficiency, elegance and simplicity of code is the art.
[ July 09, 2004: Message edited by: Joe King ]
Warren Dew
blacksmith
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 04, 2004
Posts: 1332
    
    2
As others have pointed out, there's definitely some science in "computer science".

I'd distinguish between computer science and software engineering. Most programmers in the private sector are engages mostly in the latter, not the former.
Tony Alicea
Desperado
Sheriff

Joined: Jan 30, 2000
Posts: 3222
    
    5
I think that you could not see a better dichotomy resolved (in CS) than in the title and content of:

Art of Computer Programming, Volume 1: Fundamental Algorithms

Or Volume II. Or III.

Is it ART or is it SCIENCE? Answer: BOTH. At the same time.
Sameer Jamal
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 16, 2001
Posts: 1870
Most of the Universities Offer Master Degree in Computer science without havig the eligibility criteria of having Maths in graduation level is it ok, I mean whether a person who has done his graduation in Zoology, Botany Chemistry subjects is eligible for Master degree in computer science.
Frank Silbermann
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jun 06, 2002
Posts: 1385
My first computer science professor opined that any discipline with the word "science" in its name -- isn't one. He defined computer science as "a study of techniques for using a computer to make money."
[ July 14, 2004: Message edited by: Frank Silbermann ]
Arjun Shastry
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 13, 2003
Posts: 1874
Originally posted by Tony Alicea:
I think that you could not see a better dichotomy resolved (in CS) than in the title and content of:
Art of Computer Programming, Volume 1: Fundamental Algorithms

Or Volume II. Or III.

Is it ART or is it SCIENCE? Answer: BOTH. At the same time.


If anybody scan any of these voulmes,Knuth proves that Computer science=Mathematics(Calculus+probability+number theory+infinite series+partial differential equations+integration)and nothing else!


[ July 14, 2004: Message edited by: Arjun Shastry ]

MH
Jim Yingst
Wanderer
Sheriff

Joined: Jan 30, 2000
Posts: 18671
any discipline with the word "science" in its name -- isn't one.



Yeah, there's a certain sense that if you have to tell people that what you're doing is science, you're probably fooling yourself. I'm kind of surprised they didn't rename psychology as "psychological science".

I agree with Ellen, and Tony... and Warren... and Joe... Computer science is a form of applied mathematics, more than anything else. But its very much also an art, and a craft. (Actually I might say "craft" more than "art", since crafts are more likely to yield useful results. But far be it from me to argue with Donald Knuth...

Most of the Universities Offer Master Degree in Computer science without havig the eligibility criteria of having Maths in graduation level is it ok, I mean whether a person who has done his graduation in Zoology, Botany Chemistry subjects is eligible for Master degree in computer science.

I don't see a problem here. Many graduate programs are set up to allow people from other disciplines to cross over into them. It depends on the subject. Newer disciplines are probably more open to allowing people from other fields, and adapting their curricula accordingly.
[ July 14, 2004: Message edited by: Jim Yingst ]

"I'm not back." - Bill Harding, Twister
P. Sagdeo
Ranch Hand

Joined: Nov 13, 2003
Posts: 67
The way I see it, all science builds on Mathematics. With Physics you have the equations, and sometimes the graphing, with chemisty, you have the equations, and sometimes the converting, with biology, you have the equations, and some converting too, and with computer science, you have logic, of course (as well as other stuff, but in my school, the AP class teaches boolean trees, data structures, etc.).

Thus, I think a science can be anything that uses the principles (Math, basically), to get the end results, may it be a trajectory, a half life, the growth of a bacterium, or writing programs.
 
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