Friday, December 08, 2006

Computer Science Isn't Science

...it's math.

The inside joke in universities is that if a subject has the word "science" concatenated onto it, it's not really a science. "Social Science" isn't a science. "Computer Science" isn't a science. Physics is. Chemistry is.

I think it's true. What's now "Computer Science" (or in other completely nonsense realms, "Informatics") is really mathematics. I think a lot of modern colleges and universities are getting it completely wrong... don't put CS in with engineering, vocation or *gasp* business. Put it where it belongs.

The knowledge and understanding of algorithms is what separates decent coders from great ones. Nowhere is this demonstrated better than on Beyond3D's Origin of Quake3's Fast InvSqrt(). Here we try to trace back a very elegant, fast and extremely effective five lines of code to its original author. The understanding and anthropology of this Newton-Raphson inverse square codification acts as a veritable who's-who in 3D real-time rendering, from Carmack to Gary Tarolli.

Take a look at "Exceptional lC++", reviewed by the good ol' Register. This is not just a trove of complex but simple C++ snippits - it can be a litmus test for those rare C++ hackers that can change the physical properties of the world with a mere wave of their hand.

For those of us who are still on the intermediate side of the scale, S. Dasgupta, C.H. Papadimitriou, and U.V. Vazirani have been releasing drafts of their textbook, "Algorithms," to the general laudations of the programming populous. It really is a fantastic resource, if for no other reason than to have such a nice reference on-hand on-line.

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