[OT] Free software versus software idea patents
Steven D'Aprano
steve+comp.lang.python at pearwood.info
Sun Apr 17 01:36:22 CEST 2011
On Sat, 16 Apr 2011 00:21:55 -0500, harrismh777 wrote:
> software *is* mathematics
No it isn't.
I might accept an argument that *algorithms* are mathematics, but
software is not algorithms.
Consider the difference between the mathematical concept of leverage and
an actual physical lever. We wouldn't say that a physical machine "is"
mathematics just because we can describe an idealized version of the
machine in the language of mathematics. (If the machine is particularly
simple -- you might be able to exactly simulate a lever in pure
mathematics, but simulating, say, a nuclear bomb or a dialysis machine in
mathematics is more of a challenge...)
Likewise, we shouldn't try to pretend that an actual software
implementation of an algorithm, written for an actual hardware machine,
with all the complications and difficulties that entails, "is"
mathematics just because we can hypothetically describe an idealized
version of that algorithm in mathematics. We of all people, being
programmers, should understand the practical difference between an
algorithm in a book and the actual code needed to implement that
algorithm, and not just gloss over the differences with a handwave and a
confident assertion.
--
Steven
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