On Computing: The Fourth Great Scientific Domain
Paul S. Rosenbloom
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Computing is not simply about hardware or software, or calculation or applications. Computing, writes Paul Rosenbloom, is an exciting and diverse, yet remarkably coherent, scientific enterprise that is highly multidisciplinary yet maintains a unique core of its own. In On Computing, Rosenbloom proposes that computing is a great scientific domain on a par with the physical, life, and social sciences.
Rosenbloom introduces a relational approach for understanding computing, conceptualizing it in terms of forms of interaction and implementation, to reveal the hidden structures and connections among its disciplines. He argues for the continuing vitality of computing, surveying the leading edge in computing's combination with other domains, from biocomputing and brain-computer interfaces to crowdsourcing and virtual humans to robots and the intermingling of the real and the virtual. He explores forms of higher order coherence, or macrostructures, over complex computing topics and organizations. Finally, he examines the very notion of a great scientific domain in philosophical terms, honing his argument that computing should be considered the fourth great scientific domain.
With On Computing, Rosenbloom, a key architect of the founding of University of Southern California's Institute for Creative Technologies and former Deputy Director of USC's Information Sciences Institute, offers a broader perspective on what computing is and what it can become.
and more of the most exciting work within computing and the other sciences becomes multidisciplinary. If the boundaries drawn around domains and the organizations that investigate them are too narrow, multidisciplinary research falls between the cracks, a result that is dysfunctional both for scientific progress in general and for the individuals involved in particular. Similar risks also result when departments, disciplines, and domains become too focused on the benefits to themselves as a
intermingle the real and the computational/virtual. Much of the current leading edge in computing, and even more of its future, falls within the scope of polyadic computing. Aspects of polyadic computing are included in the survey when there is a single dominant relationship by which we can classify the area at the top level. Other pieces are included in chapters 5 and 6 in support of later purposes. Because so much of the future of computing seems to lie in multidisciplinary areas, and because
compound relationship involving implementation and interaction. This choice is analogous to the one discussed earlier between whether specialties such as computer programming should be considered as monadic or pure dyadic/polyadic computing. As was the case there, it is a modeling choice as to how much detail would be useful. A purchaser of a chair may, for example, only care about its being made out of wood, P/L, whereas an artisan might care about the details of how the chair is constructed out
learning, and interaction with external environments—into a single system capable of operating autonomously and appropriately in some environment. Agent languages provide the core around which such systems are built. The topic of cognitive architectures has already been mentioned several times over the previous chapters. What is important about them from the perspective of agents is that they provide one way of defining an agent language. However, they actually go beyond just providing a
enthusiasm left for the chase. After painful and extended soul searching, I concluded that a major change was necessary, but whether it was simply to be a diversion—of whatever length—from which I would ultimately return or a permanent shift was unclear at the time. When Herb Schorr, executive director of the Information Sciences Institute (ISI)—a large research institute in Marina del Rey that is part of the Viterbi School of Engineering at the University of Southern California (USC) and where I