[Humanist] 31.755 status among the disciplines

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Tue Apr 10 09:56:39 CEST 2018

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 31, No. 755.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Mon, 9 Apr 2018 11:19:08 +0100
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: status among the disciplines

Daniel J. Kleitman's "On the future of combinatorics" (2000)* provides 
an amusing as well as enlightening analogy for digital humanists 
wondering about where they stand in a world structured by disciplines. 
Kleitman in turn dwells on the analogy of combinatorics with mathematics 
in regard of status, e.g.

> Much of mathematics was and is motivated by potential application to
> science or engineering.
> When such an application is successful, it quickly becomes absorbed
> into the subject; if important, it becomes a part of the science, is
> taught to students as such, and ceases to be considered mathematics.
> Thus, what is left as mathematics and taught as such in areas of
> application, are either preliminaries, or those subjects that have
> not been successful enough or important enough to be taken over.
> Thus, applied mathematics is in effect excluded from its successes.
> Of course, there is always the possibility that new mathematical
> methods will be required to handle new or now ill-understood
> scientific problems. Thus mathematicians represent the threat to
> scientists that they may be forced to learn new tricks and to study
> new and perhaps unfathomable mathematical lore.


*In Siegfried S. Hecker and Gian-Carlo Rota, eds. Essays on the Future: 
In Honour of Nick Metropolis. Springer, 2000.

Willard McCarty (www.mccarty.org.uk/), Professor emeritus, Department of
Digital Humanities, King's College London; Adjunct Professor, Western
Sydney University; Editor, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews

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