In Defense Of Computer Science

Computer science, as an academic discipline, has been the subject of a great deal of scrutiny lately. Of particular interest has been the worth of a CS degree to us, the fee-paying consumers who apparently want nothing more than to transform their college dollars into CV-ready bullet points that will smooth the path to the cubicle job of our dreams.Many of the arguments in these recent exchanges have been predictable. Java is used as a placeholder for all that is wrong with the subject, because teaching it as an introductory language sacrifices pedagogical merit for practical applicability. Proponents of its use retort that they’ll never use type theory anyhow, so what use is it learning it in the first place? The reply is that if they knew about it, they’d get a job where they had to know about it, and so on.

What has surprised me most is that no-one has stood up and defended computer science on its own merits: as an academic subject of some breathtaking beauty and profundity.

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