Computing is a natural science?

Peter Denning, one of the big idea people in computer science, has an interesting article in the July Communications of the ACM, entitled ‘Computing is a Natural Science.’ Quoting from that article: ‘Information processes and computation continue to be found abundantly in the deep structures of many fields. Computing is not—in fact, never was—a science only of the artificial.’ He goes on to describe the evolution of computing, from a tool to do things faster that I already know how to do (e.g., analyze data, manage business processes), to a new approach which allows me to do new things I hadn’t considered before (e.g., computational science, data mining), to a fundamental idea or model used to understand other fields (e.g., biology, social science).

Good stuff. And yet another reason to study computer science today! Deep ideas about algorithms and information representation and processing are being used to study a wide variety of natural and societal systems. It’s an easy guess that new insights from computing will continue to emerge in even more fields.

Leave a Reply