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What came first, math or computing?
Vardi M. Communications of the ACM66 (11):5-5,2023.Type:Article
Date Reviewed: Dec 1 2023

The intellectual debate on the emergence of mathematics and computing is long overdue. Did mathematicians create the field of computer science (CS), or have mathematics and CS coexisted for a long time? Vardi offers some succinct insights into this controversial issue by highlighting the historical origins and contributions of both fields.

The author clearly presents historical records, that is, the contributions of mathematicians and computer scientists to modern achievements in computational studies. Vardi remarks that “math and computing have been entwined for the past 40,000 years and will continue to be so.” Is this assertion true? If so, how can industry, academic institutions, and accreditation agencies of computing and applied mathematics programs maintain and foster the interdisciplinary research and teaching collaborations that the math and computing fields offer?

This timely and insightful article reminds me of a question I continue to ask physicists and professional engineers: If you were not a physicist or engineer, what would you be and why? Vardi’s great insights are a reminder of the many great contributions engineers and physicists have made to computing.

Physicists, engineers, mathematicians, computer scientists, and program accreditation institutions should read this short but thoughtful article. It may spark ideas for eliminating silos and promoting interdisciplinary teaching and research collaborations within and among institutions and accreditation agencies.

Reviewer:  Amos Olagunju Review #: CR147671
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