[Haskell-cafe] Truly Really Off-topic: (Was: Mathematics)

Jerzy Karczmarczuk jerzy.karczmarczuk at unicaen.fr
Mon Aug 29 17:19:37 CEST 2011

Now, something really à côté de la plaque...
Jack Henahan terminates his useful advice addressed to A. Coppin:
> Computer science is no more about computers than astronomy is about telescopes.
> -- Edsger Dijkstra
This citation makes me think, and since this became rare, I share it.

  * It is unsourced, repeated without discernment, and Dijkstra cannot
    confirm (or deny) it any more. Somehow I cannot believe he said that...
  * Dijkstra began to study physics, and a physicist would be reluctant
    to make such puns. Why?
      o Astronomy, and physics are not only theories of galaxies or
        superfluids, but also methodologies of data acquisition and data
        processing. Telescopes evolve with our knowledge of the visible
        universe, as the accelerators evolve with our knowledge of
        elementary particles. You have to know where to look! And how to
        interpret the raw, experimental data.
      o So, whether you call it Informatique, Datalogi, or whatever, it
        is */also/* about computers. Do you really think that the
        algorithmics, the thory of parallel computation, etc., have
        nothing to do with concrete implementations?
  * These among you who touched just a bit of astronomy, should know
    what a horrendous amount of "truly astronomical" knowledge is
    necessary to make the telescope work! For example to synchronize it
    with the earth movement...
  * This citation seems to be a savant variant of: "The Fool Looks At
    The Finger That Points To The Sky" case... OK, if you wish. But I
    had an occasion to sit near a beautiful girl  who pointed her hand
    and her eyes in the direction of wonderful Zodiac constellations; it
    was midnight in the mountains. I don't remember the details, but
    without being a fool, I didn't look at the stars... (Well, actually
    I was a fool, but it is a long story).

Jerzy Karczmarczuk
Caen, France

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