Computer Science is a science or an engineering discipline?

2 minute read

Recently I’ve made my exam at PoliMi of the course Philosophical Issues of Computer Science. We had to read several papers and think about them. After, the professor will ask us questions about them.

Of course, the theme of the papers were trying to answer or give some lights to several question that had been in the Computer Science field for several years, even before the birth of Computer Science as a field.

One of this papers was Computer Scientist as a Toolsmith II by Frederick P. Brooks Jr. This is a very interesting paper because try to dive into the definition of Computer Science. In the paper the author establish that we are not scientist or neither engineers, what we are is a synthetic composition of both.

He argues that we create tools for other make to make people’s life better. This is exactly how I perceive Computer Science. Nowadays, we can’t image an architect without a computer for making the design of the building he is going to build. The same for any kind of engineer. We create useful tools for helping this engineer to help people life but also we help scientist to be quicker in making new discoveries.

Scientist create in order to study while engineers study in other to build.

Also, in the paper it is said that scientist create in order to study while engineers study in other to build. Both ways could be applied to computer scientist that’s why I agree with the position of the author.

We, as computer scientist, are helping and interacting with so many different areas, and that’s something I love about this discipline. You can solve problems ,or help to solve with the tools you create, in many different areas which make you valuable in a very extend spectrum.

Another idea of the paper was the one I’ve said in the superior paragraph. Collaboration is really important because it what make us, as humans, achieve the most. Also beat the most difficult problems.

In my opinion, and also agreeing with the author, we should be thinking about solving real world problems that were unimaginable difficult before the area of Computer Science. Having in mind that what we want to do is improve the quality of people’s life, of everyones not just a group of people.

The author also argues that the idea of AI at the beginning was wrong, that we should be thinking in creating AI for helping humans, instead of substitute them. I agree also with this, I think that AI for helping decision making are going to be a game changing in for example health care areas.

It is a really interesting paper that I recommend to everyone.

Paco