June 29, 2007

Computing is a Natural Science

Another interesting article from the most recent Communications of the ACM v50i7, Computing is a Natural Science by Peter J. Denning (self-archived version).

The old definition of computer science—the study of phenomena surrounding computers—is now obsolete. Computing is the study of natural and artificial information processes. Computing includes computer science, computer engineering, software engineering, information technology, information science, and information systems.


Future Directions of Computing

Computing is evolving constantly. New principles are discovered; older principles fall out of use. An example of a new principle is the scale-free structure of network connectivity; an example of an out-of-use principle is the guideline for vacuum tube logic circuits. To help monitor the evolution of the field and find new principles-based connections among technologies and fields, the GP Web site contemplates a Great Principles Library, an evolving collection of materials, tools, and editorial process to support the learning, teaching, application, and cross linking of technologies and principles [6].

There is a trend in the computing field involving games. Not only is the video game industry pursuing it, but business and military organizations are turning to virtual reality simulation games as effective training grounds for various skills (as indicated in this month's special section). Dozens of universities have established BS or MS degrees in gaming. Is this a deep trend? Or just a fad?

This is an important article, well worth reading in detail to get the full weight of Denning's ideas.

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