20.021 fundamentals?

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
Date: Wed, 17 May 2006 11:52:27 +0100

                Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 20, No. 21.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to: humanist_at_princeton.edu

         Date: Tue, 16 May 2006 11:05:05 +0100
         From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
         Subject: fundamentals?

My colleague John Lavagnino sent me the following:

> From David Parnas, at http://www.sigsoft.org/SEN/parnas.html :
>I would advise students to pay more attention to the fundamental
>ideas rather than the latest technology. The technology will be
>out-of-date before they graduate. Fundamental ideas never get out of
>date. However, what worries me about what I just said is that some
>people would think of Turing machines and Goedel's theorem as
>fundamentals. I think those things are fundamental but they are also
>nearly irrelevant. I think there are fundamental design principles,
>for example structured programming principles, the good ideas in
>"Object Oriented" programming, etc.

His basic point, about fundamental ideas vs the latest tech, seems
just right to me. But I disagree over the contents of the list of
fundamentals -- I'd keep the Turing Machine on it, also Goedel's
proof. I suspect that the cause of disagreement is the difference in
perspectives, that of humanities computing vs that of computer
science and engineering.

What would you put down as the fundamental ideas we want students to remember?


Dr Willard McCarty | Reader in Humanities Computing | Centre for
Computing in the Humanities | King's College London | Kay House, 7
Arundel Street | London WC2R 3DX | U.K. | +44 (0)20 7848-2784 fax:
-2980 || willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk www.kcl.ac.uk/humanities/cch/wlm/
Received on Wed May 17 2006 - 14:08:41 EDT

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