Friday, May 26, 2006

Is Computer Science a science?

Time to time this question comes to my mind, and (almost automatically) I remember a statement by one of the most interesting persons that I have met in Chicago while we were enjoying some beers with our advisor:

"Real sciences do not need to have the word science in their names. For example, Physics, Biology and Chemistry."

I should start this post by saying that I disagree with such statement. :-)

Let us take a look at what is the definition of the word science According to the Merrian-Webster Online ( Thus, we have:

1: the state of knowing : knowledge as distinguished from ignorance or misunderstanding

2 a : a department of systematized knowledge as an object of study (the science of theology) b : something (as a sport or technique) that may be studied or learned like systematized knowledge (have it down to a science)

3 a : knowledge or a system of knowledge covering general truths or the operation of general laws especially as obtained and tested through scientific method b : such knowledge or such a system of knowledge concerned with the physical world and its phenomena : NATURAL SCIENCE

4 : a system or method reconciling practical ends with scientific laws (culinary science)

To avoid being biased and a situation where one could tell me that I do not know the color of the sky. I will cite a second source. No, the second source is not Britanica, it is Wikipedia (

refers to the system of acquiring knowledge based on empiricism, experimentation, and methodological naturalism.

Therefore, I think that Computer Science fits very well on both definitions and it should be considered a real science. Perhaps a good next question is: what is a good scientific method in computer science and what is not?

However, this is a discussion for a second round of beers. :-)


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