Based on the scattered arguments, discussions, and comments, the consensus seems to be to name this site:

"Computational Science" <-- header at the top
with a url of scicomp.stackexchange.com

Proposal: Scientific Computing (was Computational Science)

Since there seems to be some controversy over the recent change to the name of this proposal, I feel we should discuss the options and try to come to a consensus.

Firstly, it is obvious that some people believe that Computational science is too close to Computer science and that this may lead to confusion and inappropriate questions.

Other options proposed include Computational Natural Science, but this might give the impression that we aren't prepared to consider questions on computational methods in the social sciences. Computational Natural Sciences & Bioinformatics suffers the same problem of exclusion (the Bioinformatics is a subset of CNS as far as as I can see). Informatics was also suggested, but I think that for most lay people this term is just too obscure and it doesn't clearly describe the scope of the site.

Given the heavy use of HPC technology by the Scientific computing group where I work, I would support the inclusion of HPC in terms of questions, but since HPC is a means to an end, not and end in itself, I don't feel it needs to be part of the name. Finally, Computer Vision is now covered under the umbrella of Signal Processing Stack Exchange, which is already in beta.

I would suggest that the format for answers should be one name proposal per answer, along with reasoning for that proposal. It would help if duplicate proposals for the same name could be merged with the higher voted answer, either as comments or edits to the answer, and then the duplicate removed.

If people vote up all options they approve of, then we should get a better idea of how much relative support each option has and whether there are compromises to be made. Approval voting

Also, for each proposal, it would be good to suggest a suitable subdomain name. Scientific Computing would map nicely to scicomp.... but the natural contraction of Computational Science would be compsci.... which is usually used to refer to Computer Science.

  • @Robert Cartaino - Thanks for the update. I suspect that the naming issue will move to meta.scicomp.stackexchange.com when we've found our feet a little more, during the beta phase.
    – Mark Booth
    Nov 16, 2011 at 18:29
  • We really try to resolve these issues before launch. Changing the "official name" displayed at the top of the site is problematic but not as big a deal as the selected URL. Changing the URL post-launch is almost a show-stopper. Nov 16, 2011 at 18:41
  • @Robert Cartaino - Thanks for the clarification. I think that scicomp is a pretty good choice for sub-domain even if this community decides they prefer a different official name during beta.
    – Mark Booth
    Nov 22, 2011 at 13:35
  • Whoops, duplicated this at meta.scicomp.stackexchange.com/questions/245/…
    – naught101
    Aug 28, 2012 at 1:13
  • @RobertCartaino: Seems like the "consensus" for scientific computing is twice as large as the one for computational science ;P
    – naught101
    Aug 28, 2012 at 1:15

8 Answers 8


Computational Science

From the example questions, this site is planned to cover problems in numerical methods, optimization, simulations, and more generally, computational solutions of applied mathematical problems in science and outside of science.

These topics are common to a wide range of disciplines beyond science, such as engineering (e.g. electrical, control, aerospace and mechanical engineering) or robotics.

Scientific Computing is a mature field with a long history that is usually associated with problems that arise only in physics or the hard and natural sciences.

On the other hand, Computational Science is an emerging field that covers the science of computing when dealing with practical mathematical problems. Note that this is different from Computer Science which mostly deals with the computational or algorithmic complexity of abstract problems, or Programming, which deals with questions regarding implementation in specific computer languages.

Finally, as I already mentioned in this other thread, there are a number of institutions that have already embraced and formalized programs in Computational Science:


The SE team seems to be concerned with people confusing computational science with computer science. I think they are misled.

Why aren't people confused about the scope or overlap between the sites Programmers, Stack Overflow, Code Review, or Code Golf? One could argue that people who are not familiar with these topics may get confused and think that they are just four sites dedicated to the topic of programming.

Also, there is not even a site called computer science in SE (there is one called Theoretical Computer Science).

To sum up, Computational Science is a superset of Scientific Computing and does not significantly overlap with Theoretical Computer Science nor with the existing software engineering/programming sites.


I think the subdomain scicomp would be a good fit for Computational Science (as some have already pointed, the abbreviation compsci may be confused with computer science).

  • 2
    @MarkBooth DSP != Computational Science.. though there are similar applications, I would say Computational Science is an umbrella term for more than just DSP
    – madmaze
    Oct 29, 2011 at 19:56
  • @madmaze - If you look at the history of intrpc's answer you will see that originally many of the things mentioned (especially computer vision for instance) were already covered by DSP.SX. More recent edits have clarified this, and made the argument for Computational Science much more compelling. Also, remember that DSP.SX is just shorthand for Signal Processing Stack Exchange.
    – Mark Booth
    Oct 31, 2011 at 14:32

I believe that

Scientific Computing

comes across as the best choice for a name.

When I first saw a "Computational Science" proposal, I thought it was a misapplication of the term "Computer Science." I understand that it is a legitimate field of expertise, but the term "Scientific Computing" is also applicable to the scope and, I feel, much more identifiable.

Go for it. scicomp.stackexchange.com.

  • 1
    I've encountered computational science a lot in "the wild" as distinct from computer science, and my undergrad had a degree in it. I do think it is confusing, though.
    – rcollyer
    Oct 19, 2011 at 3:48
  • 3
    I think Scientific Computing is a bad name for the site considering how many fields outside of science have similar needs. In case you are interested, I wrote about why I think Computational Science is a better fit for this site here. Oct 26, 2011 at 14:34
  • @MarkBooth Thanks for the heads up. I'm a bit hesitant to alter the answer too much because of the existing voting and the fact that the proposal has reached 100%. Time to make a choice. Nov 16, 2011 at 1:05
  • @RobertCartaino: I think this would be a good time to let people vote on what name they prefer. The original name of the proposal was "Computational Science" and was changed (by you) to "Scientific Computing". At no point was the community consulted about what name they preferred. Nov 16, 2011 at 7:48

My two cents. I prefer "Computational Science" to "Scientific Computing". The former name puts the emphasis on science. The latter puts the emphasis on computing. In my experience "Scientific Computing" is often used as a variant of scientific programming. SE already has many programming sites, and admittedly none of those really emphasizes science, but regardless, does this site really want people to mistake it for a programming site? That is not my understanding of the scope. If I understand it correctly, this is a site where it will be legitimate to ask scientific questions (meaning questions that are not necessarily computing questions per se) that also involve non-trivial computer (typically software) knowledge. This is quite different from scientific programming, imo.

Actually, looking at the attempt to define the scope, this point is a bit ambiguous. See for example the example question

"How do I move from naive mean field theory to the TAP equations when iteratively minimising the free energy functional?"

This would probably be off topic in a scientific computing forum, since it requires some knowledge of advanced theoretical physics, but would be in scope in a computational science forum.

I think the name of the site could have a significant influence on the site. I strongly advocate Stack Exchange to let the prospective users of this site decide on the name, and not arbitrarily impose a name. See the discussion here. I don't understand why the similarity of the name ot "Computer Science" matters. Are you suggesting that users will not be able to tell the sites apart?

EDIT: Per @Mark's request for a subdomain name, I think scicomp would still be fine, even if Computational Science is used as a name. Other alternatives off the top of my head are numcrunch (since computation in science is primarily numerical), calcsci, since, in similar fashion, one is typically calculating, rather than serving web pages, for example, or scicalc. Actually calsci or scical is smoother, but people might think it has something to do with California science. :-) A cross between those two is numsci or scinum. Another appealing alternative is simply compute, which may sound too general or too close to computer, but historically has meant to calculate. For example, the first definition for compute in The Free Dictionary is "To determine by mathematics, especially by numerical methods".


Name suggestion: Computational Science and Engineering

Having read some of the other options here, I've just been inspired with this option.


  • It is much less likely to be confused with Computer Science.

  • It makes it explicit that we are interested in questions of a computational nature, not just ones related to scientific computing. As intrpc says: cover ... computational solutions of applied mathematical problems in science and outside of science.

  • It has a natural sub-domain name option that doesn't conflict with any other sub-domain.


  • It is quite long, longer than either Computational Science or Scientific Computing.

Domain suggestion: cse.stackexchange.com

  • I agree with this, coming from the CFD world, this makes more sense. My degree is in Aerospace Engineering and while I do think the line between Scientist and Engineers in my field is sometimes blurred, I feel like Computational fields require so many different skills that we end up being jacks of all trades, masters of none. Some people will be more into the programming side, some people will be more into the physics side, I think your proposal encompasses the scope of the CFD field nicely. I do realize this site won't be limited to CFD but these were my 2 cents... Nov 12, 2011 at 14:36
  • +1 I like that.
    – mbq
    Nov 16, 2011 at 17:04

I agree that this is a serious issue, but I'm strongly convinced that changing the name in the middle of commitment phase is not a best idea -- it would bring more confusion than good. Moreover this name is only a draft -- by committing you are not voting for this particular name and tagline but for an idea behind it.

  • Sorry mbq, changes to my question have invalidated this answer. Suffice to say, I have committed, and I'm glad that the recent name change has prompted further debate on the issue if naming.
    – Mark Booth
    Oct 31, 2011 at 14:36
  • Sure, but I'll leave it for reference if you don't mind. Especially because the last point is still valid.
    – mbq
    Oct 31, 2011 at 14:46

It sounds like I may be late to the party with this comment (my apologies), but may I suggest Technical Computing? I would guess that a lot of people who would be interested in the topics likely to be discussed on this site would not consider themselves to be 'scientists', or to be doing 'scientific computing' ; for example, engineers, or people working in the finance sector.

  • unfortunately both "Scientific Computing" and "Computational Science" are both names used to describe this type of subject while "Technical Computing" is not. It sounds nice, but people just won't know what it is while the other names already have a precedence.
    – drjrm3
    Nov 9, 2011 at 16:55
  • That's not my experience - I've found Technical Computing to be a widely used and understood term. Sounds like you don't agree, though - OK, it was just my 2c. Nov 9, 2011 at 17:03

Computing for science purposes

The aim of the site name is to make the topic easily understandable, so something like "Computing for science purposes" would maybe be a good option.


Summary of announcements

This is here to take a snapshot of the discussion in the announcements section of the proposal on Wed 16th Nov 2011.

  • An alternative name in the WP article for Computational Science is Scientific Computing. – Kaveh Apr 26 at 8:35 (22 up-votes)

  • Won't be HPC questions not related to science be off-topic? How could we possibly unite with such a description? – Traroth May 11 at 19:10

  • @Kaveh - I support changing the name; Computational science is too close to computer science. – Kevin Vermeer May 26 at 17:21 (18 up-votes)

  • I propose "Scientific Computing, High Perforfmance Computing and Computer Vision", to make sure no question from the unified proposals is off-topic. – Traroth May 26 at 20:38

  • @Traroth - The name doesn't have to encompass the whole scope in one breath! That sounds like a heavy academic paper title. – Kevin Vermeer May 26 at 21:35 (6 up-votes)

  • The name is an issue, but I agree with @Kaveh that we have time for it; it is even possible to have abstract name and a good tagline. – mbq May 26 at 23:39

  • @KEvin Vermeer: The description should at least be changed to reflect the merge. HPC is not only about science. – Traroth May 27 at 8:18

  • I thought this proposal should be the merge of several others, but there is no sign something like a merge will happen anytime soon. What's going on? – Traroth Jun 5 at 9:56

  • @Traroth The SE team accepted the merge request (there is a [change-request] on discuss Q), but they will probably wait till 100% commitment. – mbq Jun 5 at 12:09

  • @mbq: but what exactly will be done? Which projects will be merged? – Traroth Jun 6 at 15:39

  • I advocate for Computational Science instead of Scientific Computing. See my arguments here – intrpc Jul 28 at 0:10 (3 up-votes)


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