The Tide, Not the Waves

  • Edsger W. Dijkstra


When the idea to write about the next fifty years of computing first entered my head, I wrote it off as utterly preposterous: what sane scientist purports to be able to see so far into the future? But then I realized that in a way that is precisely what educators do all the time: when designing our courses, we do dare to decide what to teach and what to ignore, and we do this for the benefit of students, many of whom will still be active forty to fifty years from now. Clearly, some vision of the next half century of computing science is operational. To this I should add that it is all right if the crystal ball is too foggy to show much detail. Thirty-five years ago, for instance, I had no inkling of how closely program design and proof design would come together, and in such a detailed sense my life has been full of surprises. At the same time, these surprises were developments I had been waiting for, because I knew that programming had to be made amenable to some sort of mathematical treatment long before I knew what type of mathematics that would turn out to be. In other words, when building sand castles on the beach, we can ignore the waves but should watch the tide.


Central Processor Program Design Lambda Calculus Crystal Ball Computing Community 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1997

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  • Edsger W. Dijkstra

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