Is Programing Art or Science?

X

Xah Lee

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
• Jargons of IT Industry
• The Lambda Logo Tour
• English Lawers

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
 
C

ccc31807

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.
 
P

Pascal J. Bourguignon

ccc31807 said:
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/
 
J

Jürgen Exner

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
 
T

Tim Bradshaw

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.
 
T

Torsten Mueller

Xah Lee said:
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.
 
A

Alan Mackenzie

Hi, Xah,

In comp.emacs Xah Lee said:
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.
 
P

Peter Davis

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
 
C

ccc31807

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.
 
P

Pascal J. Bourguignon

ccc31807 said:
On Apr 2, 5:48 pm, "Pascal J. Bourguignon"

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.
 
C

ccc31807

“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
 

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