[Humanist] 31.135 getting creative in CS; unrecognised

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Tue Jun 27 07:06:51 CEST 2017


                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 31, No. 135.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

  [1]   From:    Gabriel Egan <mail at gabrielegan.com>                       (67)
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 31.133 getting creative in a CS course

  [2]   From:    "Norman Gray" <norman at astro.gla.ac.uk>                    (47)
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 31.131 unrecognised

  [3]   From:    William L. Benzon <bbenzon at mindspring.com>                (32)
        Subject: Re:  31.131 unrecognised


--[1]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Mon, 26 Jun 2017 11:16:54 +0100
        From: Gabriel Egan <mail at gabrielegan.com>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 31.133 getting creative in a CS course
        In-Reply-To: <20170626051041.F1A2F3018 at digitalhumanities.org>


Dear Colleagues

Thanks to Bill Benzon for pointing us to Lee A. Arnold's
remarks on what a good computer course for humanists
would need to cover. I agree about starting with Boolean
logic--I wouldn't call it 'algebra' when teaching humanists--
and logic gates and building up from there. But I think
an omission from Arnold's account is language itself.

A big mystery for humanists is how a machine can hold,
process, and transmit language. I teach a course for English
Literature and History undergraduates that is rather like
Arnold's description, except that we focus quite quickly on
information theory, entropy, and the ASCII encoding scheme
and how we build on it.

I especially endorse Arnold's approval of Charles Petzold's
book 'Code', which I think is remarkably good for this
kind of course.

For 'pop-culture' connexions on this course, I'm about to
use the moment in the film 'The Martian' in which Matt
Damon's character tries to figure out a way to communicate
with NASA using only the rotational movements of a camera
they control. His solution involves ASCII encodings sent
as hexadecimal numbers. I'm hoping my humanities undergraduates
can figure out that this isn't the best solution and can come
up with a better one.

Regards

Gabriel

________________________________________________________________________
Professor Gabriel Egan, De Montfort University. www.gabrielegan.com
Director of the Centre for Textual Studies http://cts.dmu.ac.uk
National Teaching Fellow http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/ntfs
Gen. Ed. New Oxford Shakespeare http://www.oxfordpresents.com/ms/nos

On 6/26/2017 6:10 AM, Humanist Discussion Group wrote:
 >                   Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 31, No. 133.
 >              Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
 >                         www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
 >                  Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org
 >
 >
 >
 >          Date: Sun, 25 Jun 2017 14:36:19 -0400
 >          From: "William L. Benzon" <bbenzon at mindspring.com>
 >          Subject: Getting creative in a computer science course — 
Crooked Timber
 >
 >
 > Dear Colleagues,
 >
 > Here’s a discussion that’s relevant to the current discussion of 
computational knowledge for humanists. Look at comment #12, by one Lee 
A. Arnold:
 >
 >> 
http://crookedtimber.org/2017/06/24/getting-creative-in-a-computer-science-course/ 
 http://crookedtimber.org/2017/06/24/getting-creative-in-a-computer-science-course/ 
 >
 > Bill Benzon
 > bbenzon at mindspring.com
 >
 > 646-599-3232
 >
 > http://new-savanna.blogspot.com/  http://new-savanna.blogspot.com/
 > http://www.facebook.com/bill.benzon  http://www.facebook.com/bill.benzon
 > http://www.flickr.com/photos/stc4blues/ 
http://www.flickr.com/photos/stc4blues/
 > https://independent.academia.edu/BillBenzon 
<https://independent.academia.edu/BillBenzon>
 > http://www.bergenarches.com/#image1  http://www.bergenarches.com/#image1
 

--[2]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Mon, 26 Jun 2017 11:46:38 +0100
        From: "Norman Gray" <norman at astro.gla.ac.uk>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 31.131 unrecognised
        In-Reply-To: <20170625081506.1C8962DE4 at digitalhumanities.org>


Greetings.

On 25 Jun 2017, at 9:15, Henry Schaffer wrote:

>  First I'll claim that "mathematics" is not one area!

[...]

> Therefore an education in the humanities should include some amount of 
> math
> and computer science.

I think that computer science is even more 'not one area' than maths is, 
to the extent that one can wonder if it's reasonable -- now that 'doing 
it using a computer' is no longer an interestingly novel approach -- for 
'computing science' to be a regarded as a single subject at all.  
There's a huge difference between someone interested in the foundations 
of computing (who might quite naturally be regarded as a mathematician) 
and someone interested in database design; and that's before you even go 
near what might be regarded as IT.

Pure maths is interesting because it's a very different way of thinking 
from most other areas of the academy, even applied maths and 
mathematical physics, and though it usually ends up in 
faculties/colleges of science, I think there's no deep reason for that.  
I remember being surprised and (briefly) delighted at how disorientingly 
different were first-year university maths and school maths (a change 
which I understand recapitulates one aspect of the evolution of maths in 
the 19th century).

Willard then said:

> The
> mathematico-engineering side of computing many people find so 
> difficult to
> face that they end up arguing it doesn't matter or, more revealingly, 
> that
> it doesn't matter as long as the 'engineering works' (a British 
> English term
> for e.g. repairs to the train tracks) are done without inconvenience.

The _engineering_ side of computing, which includes but is not 
coextensive with 'IT', is interesting in its own terms, but not hugely 
productive outside of the 'engineering works on the line' (a phrase 
which I am programmed to respond to with a resigned but 
keep-on-carrying-on sigh).  The more mathematical areas of computing, 
however, can I think be very productive for a wider range of readers.

I'll hum and haw at Willard's optimism that this can straightforwardly 
fortify the digital humanities, but I think I'd be well-advised to keep 
my mouth shut until I've made a dent in his reading list in today's 
Humanist.

Best wishes,

Norman

-- 
Norman Gray  :  https://nxg.me.uk
SUPA School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Glasgow, UK



--[3]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Mon, 26 Jun 2017 08:21:38 -0400
        From: William L. Benzon <bbenzon at mindspring.com>
        Subject: Re:  31.131 unrecognised
        In-Reply-To: <20170625081506.1C8962DE4 at digitalhumanities.org>


On the relationship between computer science and math, years ago my teacher, David Hays, observed that in the study of computation, time is an analytic variable, but that is not generally the case in mathematics. Sure, you can use mathematics to measure and think about time, where time is an object of study. But it doesn’t belong to the fabric of investigation. In computing, you’re always concerned about how a process unfolds in time.

Bill Benzon

> On Jun 25, 2017, at 4:15 AM, Humanist Discussion Group <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk> wrote:
> 
>                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 31, No. 131.
>            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
>                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
>                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org
> 
> --[1]------------------------------------------------------------------------
>        Date: Sat, 24 Jun 2017 16:26:10 -0400
>        From: Henry Schaffer <hes at ncsu.edu>
>        Subject: Re:  31.127 unrecognised
>        In-Reply-To: <20170624061928.346DA19E4 at digitalhumanities.org>

[snip]

> 
> So I dug back into journal articles and books - and found myself trying to
> straddle the differences between "graph theory" and "graph algorithms". I
> thought I solved my computational problem and went to a computer science
> prof colleague who teaches a data structures course - and got a quick
> helpful answer regarding my algorithmic approach. (Is computer science
> math? :-)
> 

[snip]

Bill Benzon
bbenzon at mindspring.com

646-599-3232

http://new-savanna.blogspot.com/
http://www.facebook.com/bill.benzon
http://www.flickr.com/photos/stc4blues/
https://independent.academia.edu/BillBenzon
http://www.bergenarches.com/#image1





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