He corrected my use of the quotes and then goes on to reply to my question “what are the most important problems in computer science?“, inspired by a talk of Richard Hamming.
I admire Dick Hamming enormously, but I disagree that his first question is “good”. Everybody knows famous, unsolved, “big” problems, which tend to be thought important because of their fame. And perhaps those problems are indeed important … although when they are finally resolved (like the question of deciding equivalence of deterministic languages) I find to my surprise that I don’t get very excited by the result, rather by the method used to get there
I firmly believe that computer science advances by thousands of people solving small problems, which go together and create a massive edifice. Every year that goes by, hardly anything is done that appears to be a milestone worthy of mass attention; yet after five or ten years pass, the whole field has changed significantly. So I’m no fan of “top ten” problem lists.
Let’s hear it for the people who work on and solve small problems based on their judgement of peer pressure. Like for example Hamming.
I agree that the progress in year seems insignificant, but I don’t want to agree that we can’t see where we’re heading with computer science. This blog is my try to get an overview, to get a form stand on the shoulders of the giants and see a littler further.