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Communications of the ACM


Computer and Information Science and Engineering: One Discipline, Many Specialties

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Credit: Culture Visuelle

Mathematics is no longer the only foundation for computing and information research and education in academia.

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Don Norman

I am delighted to see this intelligent discussion of the need for reconsideration of our curriculum, especially the need for more knowledge about the social and behavioral sciences. Snir's comments, coupled with the NAe report (his reference 5) should be heeded by all.

I have long argued that engineering today needs to pay more attention to the psychological, social, political, and economic impacts of its work. Why do engineers build, study, research, invent things? For people and society. They therefore need to understand people and society. The only engineering profession that even slightly understands this is CS (and it calls itself a science, not engineering). But HCI is barely tolerated in most CS departments.

Snir's article puts all of this into a very nice framework, neatly balancing math, science, technology, and social needs, putting it into a revised Stokes formulation. I hope that the profession responds appropriately.

Don Norman, Northwestern University EECS (Emeritus).

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