It is because of these Greeks that we can tell a child, “If you build it out of triangles it will not collapse the way it does when you build it out of rectangles.” The Rhind Papyrus from Egypt (c.
1650 BC) is the earliest document that we have that discusses what we now think of as algebra problems. (Note: “algebra” = al’jabr is an Arabic word meaning “the recombining of broken parts.”) Algebra is also a precise language that gives us the ability to express knowledge about the relationships among quantities, and to make deductions from that knowledge, without necessarily knowing the values of those quantities.
About 350 years ago Descartes, Galileo, Newton, Leibnitz, Euler, and their contemporaries turned mechanics into a formal science.
In the process they invented continuous variables, coordinate geometry, and calculus. This achievement gives us the words to say such sentences as, “When the car struck the tree it was going 50 km/hour.” Now every child can understand this sentence and know what is meant by it.
However, it is not easy to teach the techniques of circuit analysis.
The problem is that for most interesting circuits there are many equations and the equations are quite complicated.Diophantus, another Greek, wrote a book about these ideas in the third century A. Algebra was further developed by Abu Abd-Allah ibn Musa Al-Khwarizmi (c. For a long time people were able to predict the motions of some of the heavenly bodies using ad hoc theories derived from observation and philosophical considerations.Claudius Ptolemy wrote the , a famous compendium of this knowledge, in the second century.As a matter of economic necessity the Egyptians invented ways of surveying the land.They also invented ways of measuring time, to help predict the yearly deluge.In a reprinted letter first published in 1967, Newell, Perlis, and Simon characterize computer science broadly as the study of the phenomena surrounding computers.We have witnessed and participated in great advances, in transportation, in computation, in communication, and in biotechnology.We close with some reflections by computer scientists on the nature of the field and the sources of their passion in their own work.Sussman identifies a distinctive characteristic of computer science as “procedural epistemology”—the representation of imperative knowledge that allows us to treat a symbolic expression as data for purposes of analysis and as procedure for purposes of dynamic interpretation.But the advances that look like giant steps to us will pale into insignificance by contrast with the even bigger steps in the future.Sometimes I try to imagine what we, the technologists of the second half of the 20th century, will be remembered for, if anything, hundreds of years from now.