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Re: Engineering versus Science, Anecdote versus Evidence ... [

  • From: Liam R E Quin <liam@w3.org>
  • To: "Costello, Roger L." <costello@mitre.org>
  • Date: Thu, 29 Dec 2011 20:33:41 -0500

Re:  Engineering versus Science
On Thu, 2011-12-29 at 19:18 +0000, Costello, Roger L. wrote:
> > I'd suggest software design is closer to engineering than science
> But isn't the goal of every engineer to move steadily away from
> engineering-as-an-art to engineering-as-a science?

Science is about understanding the world around us.
Engineering is about building things.

Engineering is generally based on knowledge and understanding that have
been gained through scientific studies. There is also creativity in the
actual solutions that are used.

> Stated differently, shouldn't we endeavor to approach engineering
> problems as scientists?

No.  We should approach engineering problems as engineers.

We should also keep in mind that a large part of computing is firmly
grounded in the "soft sciences" -- usability, for example, is very
context sensitive, but, less obviously, the metrics for "success" often
tend to move about as people start to use a system.  That can be true
with, say, civil engineering, of course, and indeed the interface
between artefact and user has traditionally been a week point in most
forms of engineering. After all, it's the realm of art and design,
realms that engineers often undervalue...


Liam Quin - XML Activity Lead, W3C, http://www.w3.org/People/Quin/
Pictures from old books: http://fromoldbooks.org/
Ankh: irc.sorcery.net irc.gnome.org www.advogato.org

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