[Computational Complexity] Is the Thrill Gone?
Sanjeev Arora and Bernard Chazelle write the Viewpoint Column Is the Thrill Gone? in this months Communications of the ACM.
One wonders if the failure of computer scientists to articulate the intellectual excitement of their field is not one of the causes of their current funding crisis in the US. Too often policymakers, and hence funding agencies, treat computer science as a provider of services and infrastructure rather than an exciting discipline worth studying on its own. Our promises of future technological innovations and scientific advances will be more credible to them if they actually understand that past and current breakthroughs arose from an underlying science rather than a one-time investment in "infrastructure."You would think that Arora and Chazelle are preaching to the choir by publishing in the communications of the main computer science academic society. But the ACM also tries to represent the broader computer professional and the CACM reflects these mixed priorities. Each month CACM takes some current topic (Spyware this month) and has a collection of academic papers on that topic that look of little direct interest to practitioners. (Compare this approach with Technology Review that hires science writers to explain the work of academic and industrial researchers.)
We think it is high time that the computer science community should reveal to the public our best kept secret: our work is exciting science—and indispensable to the nation.
So we need people like Arora and Chazelle to remind the ACM about the science in computer science. We need a separate Computing Research Association to push the computer science research agenda. And most importantly, as Arora and Chazelle say, we need to make broader public aware of the excitement and importance of computer science.
Posted by Lance to Computational Complexity at 8/10/2005 09:46:00 AM