[plt-scheme] Computers considered harmful

From: Joe Marshall (jmarshall at alum.mit.edu)
Date: Fri May 8 13:44:43 EDT 2009

Sorry for piping up so late.  I was busy arguing about tail calls....

On Wed, May 6, 2009 at 12:23 PM, John Clements
<clements at brinckerhoff.org> wrote:
> [argument elided]
>  For this reason, I would argue that computers themselves
> are currently far too central in the study of computer science.

A physical computer is an uncompromising teacher.  When you run a
program you will *know* if you have an error in your reasoning.  (Unfortunately,
it's much harder to know if you do *not* have an error.)

Without computers, computer science is largely a branch of logic.  Logic and
reasoning is hard and takes practice.  It is easy to make errors. There are
simple errors in logic in some of the most famous philosophical works on
reasoning.  Many of these would have been easily noticed had Aristotle or
Descartes etc. had a home computer.

As a professional, I see far too many complaints about `ivory tower academics'
that `know nothing about real-world computing'.  I think these complaints are
ridiculous in the extreme, but I see them all the time.  If you take
the computers
out of classroom, you'll lose even more people to this notion.


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