What is different with Python ?

Andrew Dalke dalke at dalkescientific.com
Tue Jun 14 06:18:06 CEST 2005


Andrea Griffini wrote:
> This is investigating. Programming is more similar to building
> instead (with a very few exceptions). CS is not like physics or
> chemistry or biology where you're given a result (the world)
> and you're looking for the unknown laws. In programming *we*
> are building the world. This is a huge fundamental difference!

Philosophically I disagree.  Biology and physics depends on
models of how the world works.  The success of a model depends
on how well it describes and predicts what's observed.

Programming too has its model of how things work; you've mentioned
algorithmic complexity and there are models of how humans
interact with computers.  The success depends in part on how
well it fits with those models.

In biology there's an extremely well developed body of evidence
to show the general validity of evolution.  That doesn't mean
that a biological theory of predator-prey cycles must be based
in an evolutionary model.  Physics too has its share of useful
models which aren't based on QCD or gravity; weather modeling
is one and the general term is "phenomenology."

In programming you're often given a result ("an inventory
management system") and you're looking for a solution which
combines models of how people, computers, and the given domain work.

Science also has its purely observational domains.  A
biologist friend of mine talked about one of his conferences
where the conversations range from the highly theoretical
to the "look at this sucker we caught!"

My feeling is that most scientists do not develop new fundamental
theories.  They instead explore and explain things within
existing theory.  I think programming is similar.  Both fields
may build new worlds, but success is measured by its impact
in this world.

				Andrew
				dalke at dalkescientific.com




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