XDG standard: Is Math a Science

Guido Schimmels gushi at arcor.de
Sun Mar 14 17:42:49 EET 2004

Am 10.02.2004 23:15:13 schrieb(en) Shaun McCance:
> 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

I'm too lazy to google for it, but what he really said probably was:

"Mathematik ist die Königin der Wissenschaften und Arithmetik ist die  
Königin der Mathematik."

In German we distinguish

- Naturwissenchaften (Biologie, Chemistry, Physics)
- Geisteswissenschaften (Humanities)
- Ingenieurwissenschaften (Engineering)
- Mathematik

"Wissenschaft" encompasses all these. It means "Knowledge Creation".

Please keep in mind the menu structure is for everyone, not just the  
strong minority of English speakers.

> Science is a very vague word in English.

And that is really what the whole silly thread revolves around. Just  
rename the category to "Science & Mathematics" if you feel so inclined.  
But if I ever see "Wissenschaft & Mathematik" on my menus I'll scream.
Is there really no word in English spanning all academic fields?

> 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.

This is a very good argument. Applications are tools. Mathematical  
tools are mostly used by scientists. Scientists expect to find tools  
dedicated too their profession in the science category. So even if the  
field of mathematics is not science as such, applied mathematics most  
definitely is. In the context of computer applications math is science  
for all practical purposes and intents.

Applications/Office -> tools for office work
Applications/Science -> tools for scientific work

Anyone who wants to add "Math" as a toplevel category please give a  
list of applications you would put there. I claim this category would  
be emtpy on 99% of all installations.
E.g. a "Differential equation solver" is not pure math. The "dx/dy"  
notation is a "works for me" hack wildly used by physicists, but  
mathematicians will tell you it is "wrong". And won't go there unless  
specifically paid to do so. A mathematician will use most mathematical  
applications only in the context of scientific (sic!) work. Pure math  
is done with pencil and paper now as always. Computing isn't math.  
"Iudex non calculat". "Mathematicus" non calculat" neither. The former  
for a lack of skill, the latter because it is simply not his job.

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