Is Computer Science a Science?

Posted on April 16, 2008  Comments (0)

Is computer science a science?

Most people seem to apply a certain litmus test of sorts to determine if something is a science. Something is a science if

(1) it uses the scientific method (i.e., empirical research and observation)
(2) it involves studying “fundamental principles” of the natural or physical world

(1) is, I think, a bit easier to address. I use the scientific method all the time in my work: I form hypotheses about how a particular system or algorithm should behave, develop experiments to test the hypothesis, gather data, analyze, etc. Several commenters to the first post in the series discuss the same thing. Joe, for instance, says this about his work: “One of the things I’ve noticed as a developer/engineer for the last 20 years is that I use the techniques of science all the time, only I’m not studying “nature” (be it the physics world, chemicals, biology, or people). I’m applying the disciplines and the scientific process to stuff that other people have done.” (I’ll get back to this point in a minute.)

Related: Computer Science as ScienceComputer Science PhD OverviewWho Killed the Software Engineer?Electrical Engineering vs. Computer Science 🙂

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