XDG standard: Is Math a Science

Shaun McCance shaunm at gnome.org
Tue Feb 10 23:15:13 EET 2004

On Tue, 2004-02-10 at 13:48, James Richard Tyrer wrote:
> George wrote:
> > On Mon, Feb 09, 2004 at 08:51:33PM -0700, James Richard Tyrer wrote:
> > 
> >>This argument started on the kde-devel list, and I think that it is a valid 
> >>point.
> >>
> >>Strictly speaking, Mathematics is not a Science.
> >>
> >>However version 0.8 of the spec lists the Category: "Math" with a 'Related 
> >>Category' of: Science.
> >>
> >>I don't think that this is correct.  The Category: "Math", IMO, should not 
> >>be listed with any 'Related Categories'.
> > 
> > 
> > Since you obviously need an authority on this then I offer a quote:
> > 
> > "Mathematics is the queen of sciences and arithmetic is the queen of
> >  mathematics."
> >  -- Karl Friedrich Gauss
> > 
> > And you will NOT find a mathematician to argue with Gauss.  So mathematics
> > IS a science.  And since I do have a math degree, I'm not allowed to disagree
> > with Gauss either (it would be blasphemy).
> > 
> > If you don't believe Gauss, try looking up science in a dictionary.  One
> > of the definitions from webster is:
> >   "Accumulated and established knowledge, which has been
> >    systematized and formulated with reference to the
> >    discovery of general truths or the operation of general
> >    laws; knowledge classified and made available in work,
> >    life, or the search for truth; comprehensive, profound, or
> >    philosophical knowledge."
> > 
> > And this describes EXACTLY what mathematics is.
> You appear to make a logical error that appears all too common among 
> developers.  You assume that this is an issue that only concerns me and 
> that you only need to flame me about it and it will be resolved.

Why is everybody so touchy these days?  I didn't read anything in that
mail that even resembled a flame.  It was just a counter argument.  The
argument was sent in reply to you, because you raised the issue.  Maybe
George should find everybody who agrees with you, on the list or not,
and email them individually?

I, for one, am not about to argue with Gauss.  Ever.  I think that's
grounds for being kicked out of a few professional societies.

> I assure you that this is most certainly not the case.  I only brought the 
> issue here (I'm not even the one that raised it on KDE lists} -- an issue 
> that I assure you is real and wide ranging.
> I suggest that you Google:
> 	Mathematics Science
> and after you read the 4 MILLION plus items that you get back to us with 
> the results.
> What you will see is that, in English at least, the reference is usually to 
>    Mathematics and Science.  Clearly inferring that they are on the same 
> logical level -- that one is not a subset of the other.

Science is a very vague word in English.  But if we want to take science
to mean strictly "experimental science", then I'm afraid I have bad news
about Computer Science.  Some of it is Engineering, and the rest is just
pure Mathematics.  Not much in the way of experimental science there.

Really, the category codes aren't user-visible strings.  I don't think
they should be thought of as a definitive taxonomy.  Rather, they are
indicative of the utility of the software.  The only kind of software
that I can think of that's distinctly Mathematics is computer algebra
systems.  And those are definitely of interest to just about all types
of scientists and engineers.


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