Proposal: Computer Science (Non-Programming)

AFAIK “Computer Science (Non-Programming)” is the proposed title.

  • Writing “Non-Programming” sounds a bit absurd. Every branch of computer science is linked to programming directly or indirectly. (Are there computers which do not require programming? Suggest your answers.) Maybe you wanted to stress that this site is not on programming, but the word “science” already stresses this.
  • “Low-level” or a similar attribute must be included in the title, otherwise it is a duplicate of cstheory.stackexchange.com .
  • 2
    The proposal has been renamed to "Computer Science".
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Feb 1, 2012 at 2:40

2 Answers 2


“Non-programming” isn't meant to be part of the site's title. Its presence is due to habits on Area 51, where computer science has a history of being misunderstood.

“Low-level” in the title would be ridiculous. The proposed site is about computer science at all levels. This is not a duplicate of Theoretical Computer Science Stack Exchange, which as its FAQ (if not its title) says is for research-level questions in theoretical computer science only.

  • ““Low-level” in the title would be ridiculous.” Just read it again: “or a similar attribute.” I do not restrict you. ;)
    – beroal
    Nov 14, 2011 at 21:09
  • 1
    @beroal The site I support is Computer science. Without restrictions such as “low-level” or a similar attribute. This does not preclude the existence of other sites such as Theoretical Computer Science. Nov 14, 2011 at 21:14
  • “This is not a duplicate of Theoretical Computer Science Stack Exchange, which as its FAQ (if not its title) says…” The title (not FAQ only) must clearly state the aim of the website. ““Non-programming” isn't meant to be part of the site's title.” Well, maybe that was my mistake. Where can I read the proposed title?
    – beroal
    Nov 14, 2011 at 21:16
  • 2
    I guess that technically, the title is proposed as it stands. I think we can convince the admins to change it to "Computer Science" should we hit beta, though. That would be the best solution, imho. Besides, cs.se is just awesome. =)
    – Raphael
    Dec 1, 2011 at 10:29
  • 5
    I don't see why it can't just be called "Computer Science." The (Non-Programming) subtitle is absurd. There's nothing about Computer Science as an academic discipline that excludes programming. Dec 2, 2011 at 0:13
  • I disagree. There's lots of computer science research that has almost no direct bearing on programming. It's almost as bad as saying there's nothing about Physics as an academic discipline that excludes engineering.
    – Ben
    Dec 8, 2011 at 1:39
  • There is also a lot of CS research that has quite direct bearing on programming (type theory, specification and verification, datastructures, ...). Not that CS and programming were not inherently different things, but they are (closely) related.
    – Raphael
    Dec 8, 2011 at 18:56

Computer Science is the study of computation, not computers. Computers are devices for doing computation, so naturally much computer science applies to them. Some computer science doesn't, in any practical sense (e.g. theoretically the Halting Problem is actually solvable for real computers because they don't have unbounded working memory; good luck with getting any practical benefit out of that).

Programming is the craft of getting computers to do useful things. Lots of computer science is only relevant to programming if you're writing programs for very specific esoteric purposes.

But more to the point, there is a huge body of knowledge that is of vital importance to the craft of programming that is extremely uninteresting from a computer science point of view.

Having "(Non-programming)" or something similar in the name would get at the fact that we're not trying to address the craft of programming here, even though the field of computer science is of deep relevance to programmers. And as I see it that's kind of the point of starting a Computer Science SE; SO is a good place to ask questions about the craft of programming, (and programmers seems mostly to be a useful place for other questions related to being a programmer), but for asking (and answering) questions about computer science SO has a much lower signal-to-noise ratio.

  • 2
    I agree with your reasoning but think having "Non-Programming" in the title is unnecessarily messy. Once in beta, we can define our scope (via FAQ) properly and don't need a disclaimer in the title. The title was intended to clarify the proposal's intention here on area 51 where people tend to misunderstand the term "Computer Science".
    – Raphael
    Dec 1, 2011 at 10:33
  • “Computing science” (which I often wish had taken on in the stead of “computer science”) is a possible alternative name. But “non-programming”? Yuk. Dec 2, 2011 at 23:03
  • Yeah, it is an unwieldy title. I just disagree that "Computer Science (Non-Programming)" is as absurd a concept as the OP seems to think.
    – Ben
    Dec 7, 2011 at 5:18
  • You are trying to divorce craft and science with synonyms. (Like, “7 days” and “1 week” are different notions, because they sound different. Compare to “computer” and “computation.”) This is plainly wrong. Craft is subscience, good craft makes its way into science, and bad craft does not deserve to be studied.
    – beroal
    Dec 12, 2011 at 12:23
  • @beroal: I do not agree with that view. Proving that an problem is in P because you found a O(n^20) reduction to an O(n^20) problem is interesting computer science, but quite likely to be useless to programmers if a simpler exponential algorithm already exists - it'll probably beat the new algorithm for most feasible inputs in practice. And on the other hand, porting a complex program from Windows to Linux involves lots of interesting programming knowledge and challenges, but is completely boring as computer science.
    – Ben
    Dec 14, 2011 at 5:41
  • @beroal: computation is an out-growth of logic and mathematics. It was studied, for its own sake, before there were electronic computers (or even mechanical computers). There are an infinite variety of formal processes that are "computation", as posited by the Church-Turing thesis. At a fundamental level, this is what computer science studies. There are theoretical results that would apply even in a universe where no physical device could perform computation. Of course, much actual computer science research is related to electronic computers because of the huge practical benefit.
    – Ben
    Dec 14, 2011 at 5:57

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