It might be hard to believe but I was once a computer science student. I finished all that and the degree is sitting in a tube at the bottom of my younger brother’s drinks cabinet. He is a sophisticated young man. His bedroom comes equipped with a liquor drawer. Sadly, it is stuffed with Jagermeister and various proofs of Zoomtard’s intellectual prowress.

Almost nine years ago I started studying computer programming and I loved it for the first three months. Then, unfortunately, everything went downhill and I spent the next three and a half years barely scraping past class assignments while reading theology books from the library and eating rasher sandwiches.

One of my major problems was that the course was so damn disjointed. Nothing connected to anything else and the world very much revolved around what large tech firms and their staffing requirements. Basically, my discontent expressed itself as an anger at studying Computer Science, a subject that is so obviously not scientific in any technical or well, true sense.

Disapproving Ex-Housemate and me and Teragram, all wannabe computer scientists who grew to kind of hate computer programming used to have many debates about the philosophy of computer science. How better can a man avoid the toil of another course on Design Methodology without troubling his conscience than waffling over tea and toast about how design methodology can’t be a method if it isn’t undergirded by anything more robust than the current budgets of major firms.

I’ll end this little autobiographical reflection on my early adulthood and cut to the chase. My Disapproving Ex-Housemate dropped a gem into my inbox while I was up in Norn Iron. Here is the definitive comment on the “scienceyness” of computer science, from Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs by Abelson and Sussman (amazing cover by the way):

Underlying our approach to this subject is our conviction that “computer science” is not a science and that
its significance has little to do with computers. The computer revolution is a revolution in the way we think and in the way we express what we think. The essence of this change is the emergence of what might best be called procedural epistemology — the study of the structure of knowledge from an imperative point of view, as opposed to the more declarative point of view taken by
classical mathematical subjects. Mathematics provides a framework for dealing precisely with notions of “what is.” Computation provides a framework for dealing precisely with notions of “how to.”

If Disapproving Ex-Housemate had ran my first degree course, I might not be studying theology for a career in the church today. Funny how things turn out.


Your Correspondent, Agrees when Perlis said, “….I think that it’s extraordinarily important that we in computer science keep fun in computing. When it started out, it was an awful lot of fun….”