Software Development is Not "Computer Science"19 Jul 2009
These guys are "computer scientists".
Being a programmer, developer, architect etc does not in my opinion constitute being a "computer scientist" or working in "computer science".
Perhaps the most general definition of science can be used for "developers" if we stretch:
- a branch of knowledge or study dealing with a body of facts or truths systematically arranged and showing the operation of general laws: the mathematical sciences.
But that doesn't describe the whole of it like these definitions do:
- systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation. - knowledge, as of facts or principles; knowledge gained by systematic study.
As programmers we don't do this - we use technology (the "applied science") to build things and solve problems.
We may sometimes pretend to venture into "science" as we "research solutions" - but we're just looking for knowledge and facts the "scientists" have figured out and then applying them in unique and novel ways.
Calling a programmer a scientist is like calling an artist a chemist because they use chemical compounds (paint, graphite, clay, steel, glue whatever).
Why does this matter to me?
Because by training our programmers in theoretical "Computer Science" educational programs, we are not actually creating employable or productive people. Sure, they have basic skills and theory that can then be applied through further effort - but unless they are one of the rare few to study, analyze and experiment with computer science theory - most of the knowledge gained serves little to no value in applying the techology of software development in real-world programming of software.