Is Programing Art or Science?

Discussion in 'Python' started by Xah Lee, Mar 30, 2012.

  1. Xah Lee

    Xah Lee Guest

    the refreshen of the blood, from Xah's Entertainment Enterprise, i
    bring you:

    〈Is Programing Art or Science〉
    http://xahlee.org/UnixResource_dir/writ/art_or_science.html

    penned in the year of our lord two thousand and two, plain text
    version follows.

    --------------------------------
    Is Programing Art or Science?

    Dear friends,

    You mentioned the title of Donald Knuth's magnum opus Art of
    Programming in the context of discussion that fringes on whether
    programing is science or art. I'm quite pissed off at work at the
    moment, so let me take the time to give some guide on this matter to
    the daily programers.

    At the bottom rung of programers, there's no question about whether
    programing is science or art. Because monkey coders could not care
    less. These folks ain't be reading this post, for they hardly will
    have heard of lisp.

    This leaves us with elite programers who have a smattering of
    interests on cogitation and philosophical conundrums. So, is
    programing a science or art?

    For the programing morons, this question is associated with erudition.
    It certainly is a hip subject among hackers such as those hardcore
    Perl advocates and unix proponents, who would casually hint on such
    realization, impressing a sophistication among peers.

    Such a question is not uncommon among those curious. For example, “Is
    mathematics science or art?â€, is the same type of question that has
    been broached by dabblers now and then. We can also detect such
    dilemma in the titles conferred to blathering computer jockeys: which
    one are thee: baccalaureate of science or baccalaureate of arts? It
    really makes no fucking difference.

    Ultimately, fantastically stupid questions like these are not
    discussed by mathematicians nor philosophers. These are natural
    language side-effects, trapping dummies to fuzz about nothing; not
    unlike quotations.

    For these computing jockeys, there remains the question of why Knuth
    named his books the “Art†of Computer Programing, or why some
    computing luminaries litter the caution that programing is as much a
    art as science. What elite dimwits need to realize is that these
    authors are not defining or correcting, but breaking precepts among
    the automatons in programing industry.

    To the readers of hip literature, words like science and art are
    spellbinding, and the need to pigeonhole is imminent. Of these
    ruminating class of people, the problem lies in their wanting of
    originality. What fills their banal brain are the stale food of
    thought that has been chewed and spewed. These above-average eggheads
    mop up the scholastic tidbits of its day to mull and muse with fellow
    eggheads. They could not see new perspectives. Could not understand
    gists. Could not detect non-questions. They are the holder and passer
    of knowledge, a bucket of pre-digested purees. Their train of thought
    forever loops around established tracks — going nowhere, anytime!

    So, is programing a art or science? is it art or science? I really
    need to know.

    • Theory vs Practice
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    PS don't forget to checkout: 〈From Why Not Ruby to **** Python, Hello
    Ruby〉 @ http://xahlee.org/UnixResource_dir/writ/why_not_Ruby.html

    yours humbly,

    Xah
     
    Xah Lee, Mar 30, 2012
    #1
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  2. Xah Lee

    ccc31807 Guest

    Programming is neither an art nor a science, but a trade.

    It's not an art in the sense of painting, music, dance, poetry, etc.,
    because the objective isn't to make a beautiful something, but to give
    instructions to a machine to accomplish some useful task.

    It's not a science in the sense of either physics and chemistry
    (experimental) or geology or astronomy (observational) or cosmology or
    psychology (theoretical) because the objective isn't to test
    hypothetical s against data, but to give instructions to a machine to
    accomplish some useful task.

    Obviously, it's very much connected with art (e.g., user interface
    design) and science (e.g., artificial intelligence) but the practice
    of giving instructions to a machine is more like assembling machines
    in a factory than the pursuit of an art or the practice of a science.

    CC.
     
    ccc31807, Mar 30, 2012
    #2
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  3. ccc31807 <> writes:

    > Programming is neither an art nor a science, but a trade.
    >
    > It's not an art in the sense of painting, music, dance, poetry, etc.,
    > because the objective isn't to make a beautiful something, but to give
    > instructions to a machine to accomplish some useful task.
    >
    > It's not a science in the sense of either physics and chemistry
    > (experimental) or geology or astronomy (observational) or cosmology or
    > psychology (theoretical) because the objective isn't to test
    > hypothetical s against data, but to give instructions to a machine to
    > accomplish some useful task.
    >
    > Obviously, it's very much connected with art (e.g., user interface
    > design) and science (e.g., artificial intelligence) but the practice
    > of giving instructions to a machine is more like assembling machines
    > in a factory than the pursuit of an art or the practice of a science.


    This is a narrow-minded definition of programming.


    Watch: http://www.infoq.com/presentations/We-Really-Dont-Know-How-To-Compute


    Read: Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs
    http://mitpress.mit.edu/sicp/full-text/book/book-Z-H-4.html
    http://swiss.csail.mit.edu/classes/6.001/abelson-sussman-lectures/


    --
    __Pascal Bourguignon__ http://www.informatimago.com/
    A bad day in () is better than a good day in {}.
     
    Pascal J. Bourguignon, Apr 2, 2012
    #3
  4. "Pascal J. Bourguignon" <> wrote:
    >ccc31807 <> writes:
    >
    >> Programming is neither an art nor a science, but a trade.


    Oh, that's why it is tought in trade schools alongside butchery,
    plumbing, masonry, and chimney sweeping and why you don't find any
    programming classes at university.

    jue
     
    Jürgen Exner, Apr 3, 2012
    #4
  5. On 4/2/2012 4:52 PM Jürgen Exner said...
    > "Pascal J. Bourguignon"<> wrote:
    >> ccc31807<> writes:
    >>
    >>> Programming is neither an art nor a science, but a trade.

    >
    > Oh, that's why it is tought in trade schools alongside butchery,
    > plumbing, masonry, and chimney sweeping


    Yes -- back when we opened our first programming/consulting shop in
    1999, our first employee was a trade school grad -- maybe ICS or ICT in
    San Francisco?

    > and why you don't find any
    > programming classes at university.



    Nobody said that the only option to learn programming was in university.
    Lots of us self-taught well before then....

    Emile
     
    Emile van Sebille, Apr 3, 2012
    #5
  6. Xah Lee

    Chiron Guest

    On Fri, 30 Mar 2012 01:27:16 -0700, Xah Lee wrote:

    > 〈Is Programing Art or Science〉


    Why is this question important?

    --
    You are confused; but this is your normal state.
     
    Chiron, Apr 3, 2012
    #6
  7. Xah Lee

    Tim Bradshaw Guest

    On 2012-04-03 00:52:35 +0100, Jürgen Exner said:

    > Oh, that's why it is tought in trade schools alongside butchery,
    > plumbing, masonry, and chimney sweeping and why you don't find any
    > programming classes at university.


    So, you know, no one would do law or medicine at a university. Oh, wait.
     
    Tim Bradshaw, Apr 3, 2012
    #7
  8. On Tue, Apr 3, 2012 at 12:26 AM, Chiron
    <"chiron613.no.spam."@no.spam.please.gmail.com> wrote:
    >> 〈Is Programing Art or Science〉

    >
    > Why is this question important?


    That's the whole point of the article/email. Xah basically says "This
    question is stupid and only stupid people care about it."

    You probably should have read the email before replying to it.

    -- Devin
     
    Devin Jeanpierre, Apr 3, 2012
    #8
  9. Xah Lee <> wrote:

    > So, is programing a art or science? is it art or science? I really
    > need to know.


    Sience? Almost never.

    It's handcraft.

    Seldom, in very rare cases, it's true art for a very limited audience,
    mostly it's routine, and in many cases it's also idiocy.

    T.M.
     
    Torsten Mueller, Apr 3, 2012
    #9
  10. Hi, Xah,

    In comp.emacs Xah Lee <> wrote:

    > For these computing jockeys, there remains the question of why Knuth
    > named his books the ?Art? of Computer Programing, or why some
    > computing luminaries litter the caution that programing is as much a
    > art as science. What elite dimwits need to realize is that these
    > authors are not defining or correcting, but breaking precepts among
    > the automatons in programing industry.


    He was using art in the sense of "the exercise of human skill (as
    distinguished from nature)". That's the second definition in my
    dictionary. When people talk about, for example, the art of painting
    water colours, they mean the techniques of mixing paints, depicting
    objects on paper, etc. They are not referring to the artistic value of
    the painting painted.

    > yours humbly,
    >
    > Xah


    --
    Alan Mackenzie (Nuremberg, Germany).
     
    Alan Mackenzie, Apr 3, 2012
    #10
  11. Xah Lee

    Alec Taylor Guest

    Programming is neither Art nor Science

    It's practically maths

    [pun intended]
     
    Alec Taylor, Apr 3, 2012
    #11
  12. Xah Lee

    Peter Davis Guest

    On 3/30/2012 4:27 AM, Xah Lee wrote:
    > Is Programing Art or Science?
    >


    Programming itself is a bit like being a natural language translator for
    an autistic person. You have to understand the "message" to be
    communicated, and then interpret it *very* literally for the listener.

    Note that programming is just one of a set of activities and skills that
    are part of software engineering. Others include UI design (which
    combines visual design, psychology, etc.), software architecture (which
    is like ... well, architecture) and various other skills.

    Collectively, "engineering" is the best catch-all description. Is
    building a bridge art or science? A little of both, and some other
    things as well.

    -pd
     
    Peter Davis, Apr 3, 2012
    #12
  13. Xah Lee <> writes:

    [...]

    > For example, “Is mathematics science or art?â€, is the same type of
    > question that has been broached by dabblers now and then.


    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberal_arts

    HTH.
     
    Rainer Weikusat, Apr 3, 2012
    #13
  14. Xah Lee

    ccc31807 Guest

    On Apr 2, 5:48 pm, "Pascal J. Bourguignon"
    > This is a narrow-minded definition of programming.


    Well, that's the point.

    If we make a list and include things like:
    computer science
    software engineering
    computer engineering
    discrete math
    logic
    formal methods
    web development
    computer graphics
    information technology
    information management
    data processing
    database management
    database administration
    network administration
    artificial intelligence
    .... and so on and so forth ...

    Some of these involve real art. Some of these involve real science.
    Even engineering can be considered as science, in a way, and perhaps
    art in a way. All these include programming! HOWEVER, 'programming'
    seen as 'talking to a computer' is neither an art nor a science, but
    simply a learned skill, like plumbing or cabinet making, or even
    medicine or law.

    I was a lawyer for 14 years, so I know what I'm talking about: the
    practice of law in the ordinary sense is simply that, the practice of
    law, and as such it's not an art nor a science, but simply a trade,
    albeit a highly skilled and abstract trade. And yes, lawyers can be
    artists and scientists, but neither one of these is basic to the
    practice of law.

    I'm not saying that artists and scientists can't be programmers. Many
    of them are. What I'm saying is that you can program a computer (i.e.,
    practice programming) without being either an artist or a scientist.

    CC.
     
    ccc31807, Apr 3, 2012
    #14
  15. ccc31807 <> writes:

    > On Apr 2, 5:48 pm, "Pascal J. Bourguignon"
    >> This is a narrow-minded definition of programming.

    >
    > Well, that's the point.
    >
    > If we make a list and include things like:
    > computer science
    > software engineering
    > computer engineering
    > discrete math
    > logic
    > formal methods
    > web development
    > computer graphics
    > information technology
    > information management
    > data processing
    > database management
    > database administration
    > network administration
    > artificial intelligence
    > ... and so on and so forth ...
    >
    > Some of these involve real art. Some of these involve real science.
    > Even engineering can be considered as science, in a way, and perhaps
    > art in a way. All these include programming! HOWEVER, 'programming'
    > seen as 'talking to a computer' is neither an art nor a science, but
    > simply a learned skill, like plumbing or cabinet making, or even
    > medicine or law.
    >
    > I was a lawyer for 14 years, so I know what I'm talking about: the
    > practice of law in the ordinary sense is simply that, the practice of
    > law, and as such it's not an art nor a science, but simply a trade,
    > albeit a highly skilled and abstract trade. And yes, lawyers can be
    > artists and scientists, but neither one of these is basic to the
    > practice of law.
    >
    > I'm not saying that artists and scientists can't be programmers. Many
    > of them are. What I'm saying is that you can program a computer (i.e.,
    > practice programming) without being either an artist or a scientist.



    Well, of course. Those words designate different categories that are
    not exclusive. So it's meaningless to say that programming is or is not
    art or science.

    Art is something that comes from a quality of the would-be artist.

    Science is something that comes from a methodology applied by the
    would-be scientist.

    Program is something that comes from the work applied by the would-be
    programmer.

    You can be both a programmer and artist and produce a program
    arstistically (like a torero), or an artistic program (like a painter).

    You can be both a programmer and scientist, and produce a program
    scientifically (like a mathematician), or a science program (like a
    physicist).

    You can be both a scientist and artist and produce science artistically,
    or art scientifically.

    You can be the three, producing programs artistically and
    scientifically, or producing artisctic programs scientifically, or
    producing scientific programs artistically, etc.

    When you produce programs scientifically and artistically you're a
    hacker.

    It could be nice to produce scientific programs scientifically, and even
    better if your scientific programs are also artistic (so that you can
    show the science in an interesting way to the public).
    http://www.ted.com/talks/joann_kuchera_morin_tours_the_allosphere.html

    You can also produce art programmatically. For that you need to be both
    an artist or a programmer. http://animusic.com/ Or you may try to split
    the qualities among a team like at Pixar producing artistic movies
    programmatically and scientifically like
    http://www.pixar.com/featurefilms/index.html
    http://graphics.pixar.com/library/UntanglingCloth/paper.pdf


    And the best is to produce scientific programs that are artistic,
    scientifically and artistically.
    Then you're an scientifico-artistico-hacker.


    --
    __Pascal Bourguignon__ http://www.informatimago.com/
    A bad day in () is better than a good day in {}.
     
    Pascal J. Bourguignon, Apr 3, 2012
    #15
  16. Xah Lee

    ccc31807 Guest

    “Beauty is more important in computing than anywhere else in
    technology because software is so complicated. Beauty is the ultimate
    defence against complexity.” --David Gelernter
     
    ccc31807, Apr 3, 2012
    #16
  17. Xah Lee

    Xah Lee Guest

    On Apr 3, 8:22 am, Rainer Weikusat <> wrote:
    > Xah Lee <> writes:
    >
    > [...]
    >
    > > For example, “Is mathematics science or art?”, is the same type of
    > > question that has been broached by dabblers now and then.

    >


    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberal_arts

    this is the best reply in this thread!

    Xah
     
    Xah Lee, Apr 3, 2012
    #17
  18. Xah Lee

    Chiron Guest

    On Wed, 04 Apr 2012 03:33:24 -0400, Shmuel (Seymour J.) Metz wrote:

    > If the term "art" is good enough for Knuth it's good enough for me.


    I think that may be the most intelligent comment so far...


    --
    Some rise by sin and some by virtue fall.
     
    Chiron, Apr 4, 2012
    #18
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