Those are the words of Gordana Dodig Crnkovic, well-known computer scientist, philosopher and book author about a new book by DSV’s associate professor Matti Tedre. In his book “The Science of Computing: Shaping a Discipline” Matti Tedre explores the essence of computing as a rich discipline in a broad context through opinion pieces and academic articles by authority figures, practitioners, and educators in computing fields.

The identity of computing has been fiercely debated throughout its short history. Why is it still so hard to define computing as an academic discipline? Is computing a scientific, mathematical, or engineering discipline?

“I want to present the richness of computing as a discipline by describing what the field’s champions and authority figures have said about computing. Some have suggested that it’s like engineering, some that it’s a science, some that it’s like mathematics, and there are dozens of other views, too. My book helps readers understand the debates about computing as a discipline,” Matti explains.

The book first looks at computing as a formal, theoretical discipline that is in many ways similar to mathematics, yet different in crucial ways. It traces the field’s intellectual origins in mathematical logic to modern views of the role of theory in computing. The book then explores the debates about computing as an engineering discipline. It presents arguments for and against the view of computing as engineering within the context of software production and analyzes the clash between the theoretical and practical mindsets.

“The book paints a picture of computing as a science in its own right, and not just as a branch of other fields or a tool for other sciences,” Matti stresses. “It talks about the identity crises of computing, about various, contradicting views of computing as a science, and some famous characterizations of the field.  It also goes on to talk about the algorithmization of other sciences.”

The book was published on December 3 2014, and leading scientists – famous computer scientists and philosophers of computing – have given the book great praise in editorial reviews.  This is evidently a book that will fill a need.

"Critics of computer science (CS) have long claimed that CS is engineering and mathematics, but not science. Laying bare the historical records of the field, Matti Tedre demonstrates that science and the experimental method have been part of CS since the beginning. Moreover, CS has always been interested with supporting all fields of science with methods that aid scientific discoveries and cope with the increasing quantities of scientific data. Read this and you will understand CS better."
Peter J. Denning, Author of Great Principles of Computing (MIT Press, 2015)

"This is a terrific investigation of the philosophical issues around the nature and history of computer science, examining whether it is a science, and, if so, what kind of science it might be."
William J. Rapaport, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York

"Written with insight, exceptional clarity, and command of the facts, The Science of Computing: Shaping a Discipline provides a timely and much-needed account. Following a historical development of the discipline, from its strong relation to mathematics and engineering, it elaborates on computing as a science of both the artificial and the natural. Must-read for anyone interested in understanding the computing discipline."
Gordana Dodig Crnkovic, Mälardalen University and Chalmers University of Technology


Video about the book with Matti Tedre

The book: The Science of Computing: Shaping a Discipline

More about Matti Tedre

“I am in my dream job” - Interview with Matti Tedre