Shifting Identities in Computing: From a Useful Tool to a New Method and Theory of Science
Following a number of technological and theoretical breakthroughs in the 1930s, researchers in the nascent field of automatic computing started to develop a disciplinary identity independent from computing’s progenitor fields, mainly electrical engineering and mathematical logic. As the technology matured in the next four decades, computing emerged as a field of great value to all of science and engineering. Computing’s identity as an academic discipline was the subject of many spirited debates about areas of study, methods, curricula, and relations with other fields. Debates over the name of the field and its relations with older academic departments occupied many hours and journal pages. Yet, over time computing revolutionized practices, then principles, of science and engineering. Almost every field—not just science and engineering, but also humanities—embraced computing and developed its own computational branch. Computing triumphed over all the doubts and became the most important player in science today.
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