Monday, December 07, 2009

Complexity Vidcast 3

Quick announcement: If you are a student who wants to go to SODA but doesn't have the funds, click here.

I had forgotten we did this. Here's a video of my daughter Molly interviewing Bill and I about complexity our third Vidcast filmed last October before our Dagstuhl trip.


  1. The sound quality is really good this time. Good job Molly!

    Tips for Molly: Don't move the camera so much, it's hard for the viewers. Also, don't zoom in and out too often. Finally, since you are much closer to the microphone, you should speak softer than the people you are interviewing. Good luck for your future interviews!

  2. molly will be a heartbreaker, good luck lance ...

  3. Lance says: "Computer Science is the study of process, computation, how things compute."

    If we consider the various subfields of computer science the central unifying theme or object of study seems to be information, viz.

    -computation over information: algorithms
    -transmission of information: networks, information theory
    -storage and retrieval of information: databases, data structures, compression, IR
    -securing information: crypto
    -displaying information: CG, UI
    -derive insight from information: AI, Machine Learning
    -connexion of information to the physical world: quantum computing, physics of computation
    -machines for processing of information: hardware
    -limits of efficient processing of information: complexity
    -creating tools to process information: programming languages

    and so on.

    If we define processing information broadly, then storage, transmission, retrieval, displaying and securing of information could be made to fit into the first part of Lance's definition ("Computer Science is the study of process"). The second part is simply not broad enough ("computation, how things compute").

    Furthermore if we rely on a broad interpretation of "process" there is too much room for ambiguity, e.g. is the study of a chemical process part of CS?

    An amended definition seems to be in order:

    "Computer Science is the study of information: how it's processed, stored, transmitted, retrieved, secured, etc."

  4. Actually some people already view the chemical processes as computation (rules of the games are slightly different).
    As a result there is lot of collaboration between computer scientists and chemical engineers taking place, at least at my university.

  5. Has computer science become simply the art of peer review?   :)

  6. That is a nice video!

    Here is a riddle to share with Molly --

    Q: What's blue, and smells like green paint?

    A: Blue paint.

    If Molly likes it, then perhaps she's cut out to be a category theorist! :)

  7. Cool video. Molly, you're awesome. You should be famous. I mean, seriously, amazing video.

  8. Turing certainly knew about all that engineering difficulties stuff (Pilot ACE, for example).

  9. Hahahaha :)
    The video is so nice!!!
    But please Prof. Lance, do not take away the fun in Molly's life, by making her study complexity theory....