Why is it called Computer Science?

by admin on March 31, 2006 04:00pm

I’ve often wondered why the principles of software and computing were called “Computer Science”. Science to me is the methodical and inspiring process of discovering the natural laws of things you don’t fully understand – unveiling mysteries about the environment, finding consistent patterns or isolating details you never knew before. But in Computer Science nearly everything studied is known because it was invented by people – so why not call it Computer Philosophy?

But in the Open Source Software Lab we actually do practice science. What’s in a given Open Source package or Linux distribution? How was it written? How has it changed over time? What are the limits of its scope and performance? This is the fun stuff. We get to explore things we don’t understand, learn about them, and document the results. We also contribute to the cause of interoperability through testing various technologies.

Taking over the Lab from Bill Hilf, I’ve been lucky to inherit a strong team, hundreds of servers and software packages, and a lot of momentum. Where I want to go with the lab in the future is to open our processes and our research schedule, get critical feedback on our methodologies and findings, and share our learnings with this community.

We have a number of exciting projects in the lab right now (52, at last count). They range from IPSEC interoperability testing to analyzing deployment and performance of Linux-based HPC clusters, from driver support to power consumption. We’ll cover these projects on Port 25 and invite your thoughts on the projects, what you think we should be researching, and why all this matters.

I am looking forward to creating the next phase of the lab with you!

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