Algorithmic Thinking

Welcome back Chris Beck!

You asked for comments on the Princeton essay, so here they are. Professionally, every field of science has been bemoaning how it must explain its fundamental methodology and importance to public, starting with Galileo and the Catholic Church. Computer science is unique in that it is the most intimate form of technology, the one we interact with the most on a daily basis. Yet, the basic paradigm is not to show people the code, to lock software down as much as possible. Programming is a trade, making little trinkets, and programmers are mere tradesmen.

Computer Scientists should distinguish their field from the mechanics of making a computer work. I am not a computer scientist (but I do play one on TV), and it seems to me that the paradigm of CS is an algorithmic understanding of phenomenon. An algorithmic view of reality can be incredibly power, by reducing complex systems to discrete steps, we gain insight. Keegan once said that he finds programming very humanistic, he imagines himself as the computer, and acts out the steps he would take to solve a problem. What kind of complex systems would we reduce if we looked at them from the level of basic agent, and developed a simple fool-proof algorithm for solving them? (I'm thinking healthcare here, but there should be other examples.)

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