(Guest post by By Jeffery D. Stein, Chairman, IT History Society (email@example.com), but first a related post by me.)
POST BY ME:
- Often you find that the origin of your field is from a different field. Ramsey's paper where he proved (what is now called) Ramsey's theorem was actually a paper in logic, though he did say that his combinatorial lemma may be of independent interest. Knowing what he was working on expands your horizons.
- If you study some history and then look around at the present world you will see some things in a different light. For example, if you study the history of Group Theory you realize that they didn't just write down some axioms and see where they led- they had actual applications in mind (e.g., showing the quintic had no solution in radicals). The axiomatic approach is fairly recent.
- When teaching (say) cardinality it is good to know that this concept was once controversial and some mathematicians disagreed with it. Hence be patient with your students. I tell them that this concept was troubling and some of the controversy around it.
- You can pick up some factoids of interest (and if you learn more about them they can become facts). I read an interview with Sheila Greibach (early Formal Lang Theorist) and, in passing, she mentions that any r.e. set can be written as the intersection of two context free languages. I never knew that! The other direction- the intersection of two context free Languages is an r.e. set is easy, but good to know for a HW or Exam question. (NOTE ADDED LATER- a commenter pointed out, correctly, that this cannot be correct. I will check what she actually wrote later.)
- The items above are actually about the history of the IDEAS and not the people. Knowing something about the people can be interesting, but is likely less useful for research and teaching. If you disagree I would love to hear a respectful counterargument.
GUEST POST: Introducing an IT Teaching and Research Resource
Guest Post by Jeffery D. Stein, Chairman, IT History Society (firstname.lastname@example.org)
In 2007, the IT History Society was formed. The Society is dedicated to informing IT companies about the value in preserving their history, helping archivists to be more effective in their work in preserving IT history, and most importantly being a reference point for the many international places of computing history information.
The Society wants to assist educators, students of information technology, and researchers in learning more about the history and background of the information technology industry, an industry that has had a significant effect on mankind in the past seven decades. It has nearly 700 international institutional and individual members (no charge to be a member). Institutional members include IBM, HP, Intel, the Smithsonian Institution, Computer History Museum, Charles Babbage Institute, MIT, Caltech, Hans Nixdorf Museum, British Library, Stanford Silicon Valley Museum, Deutsches Museum, IEEE History Center, UK National Archive, Hagley Museum, and more. Individual members include historians, computer scientists, and people who have worked in the industry from various countries. Currently the Society has many online databases; but, two in particular may be of great value for teaching information technology and research:
- IT Historical Resource Sites Database. over 400 and growing every day, sites that have historical information about the information industry. This entire database is completely indexed and searchable, which can be a beneficial aid in targeted search and research.
- IT Honor Roll is database of over 800 names and growing, discussing individuals who have made a noteworthy contribution to the information technology industry.
- Calender of upcoming IT Historical and Archival events
- Research links and tools to aid in the preservation of IT history
- Over 1,000 Technology Quotes
- An active Blog with discussions about historical IT events and the people behind them
- A Social Network of IT history professionals, archivists, and hobbyists.
The Society feels that these valuable resources can be of great benefit to information technology professors, teachers, assistants, researchers, and students. All databases are works in progress and each database has links for the IT community to add and grow the entries of each database. The Society is a non-profit educational and research organization. It does not charge for membership or the use of its information. The IT community supports our operations through donations to our 501 (c) (3) non-profit foundation. Please visit this link for further information.