Thursday, March 15, 2007

Is Computer Science Dead?

There is a great question, asked in an article on eWeek.com by Deborah Perelman entitled "An Academic Asks: Is Computer Science Dead?." In short, no it is not dead, but in my opinion so much of the "action" in information technology happens at higher, application levels with so many scripting languages and API interfaces, that most people don't need to really come in contact with the "science" aspect of computers to do a lot of interesting work.

Computer science does have a bright future since so much of the progress of higher-level fluff depends on advances in lower-level algorithms and underlying computing infrastructure where hard-core engineering and science are critical. A lot of computer science now occurs at the chip level, with a fair amount of chip design being "soft" and resembling software more than hardware.

Even in "the old days", there was a strong sense of application software versus system software, and that distinction is still quite relevant, although there is a lot more sophistication and programmability at the application levels these days.

Interesting question: Is code that processes html and http "application" software or "system" software. In the old view, http was clearly at the application level, but these days it is almost considered as low level as old-fashioned assembly language.

-- Jack Krupansky

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