Institute for Personal Robots in Education Blog

Definition of Computer Science

Mon, 2007-09-24 18:23
Bill Rapaport (not verified)

Thanks for your comments, Emily! Actually, "to make computations easier/mechanical and to provide a foundation for mathematics" isn't my definition of computer science; rather, those 2 goals were the motivating forces behind the development of computers over the past 350 years or so. I didn't offer a definition of CS; that's something that I hope each student in my course will come up with on her or his own. But I must say that I'm fond of the "magic paper" definition of Pat Hayes and its slightly more mechanical version by Richmond Thomason: Hayes said that computers are (like) magic paper on which you write patterns that can change patterns (including themselves), and then the changes "magically" occur; Thomason said that computers are devices for changing the values of variables. For references, take a look at:
http://www.cse.buffalo.edu/~rapaport/584/S07/whatisacomputer.html

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