Sunday, September 6, 2009

A Tale of Two Research Areas (economics and computer science)

compares the goals of economics and computer science and how it affects the research papers. An economist espects to model a situation that already exists, while a computer scientist is look at the possibility of what can be. some of this is the effect of Moore's law where computer power doubles each year. Thus a 33% efficiency improvement would be dramatic for the whole economy but for an algorithm it is less important as it is swamped by the speedup of technology.

He calls for papers that combine the best of both world's, things that look at all possibilities as well as grounding this in empirical data. As a computer scientist I think that is a good approach to take for the whole profession. There is a tension in our field between the practical papers and the theoretical, and it is important to have both.

And I close with remarks from Joseph Weizenbaum: "One programs not because one understands, but in order to come to understand. Programming is an act of design. To write a program is to legislate the laws for a world one first has to create in imagination”(Weizenbaum, 1976 p 108). and The computer programmer ... is a creator of universes for which he alone is the lawgiver ... universes of virtually unlimited complexity can be created in the form of computer programs.

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