Daniel Lemire's blog

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Computer Science is the new Physics

Expert Opinion and Ernie’s 3D pancake talk about the fact that Computer Science, as a field, might be doomed because no discipline at a large scale requires computer science, certainly not programming as we teach it.

I’d like to draw a comparison with Physics. Physics didn’t become irrelevant, but schools like UQAM closed down their Physics Department. This is what happens to a field when jobs are gone. I claim that Computer Science is where Physics was several years ago. Software Engineering jobs are not gone, not anymore than Electrical Engineering are gone. Information Technology jobs (security, networking, etc.) are not gone, not anymore than Financial Analyst jobs are gone. But, if you are contemplating a career in Software Engineering or Information Technology, why not go for a closely related degree? This is exactly what students will do.

UQAM being a bad example, since we don’t have a Physics degree anymore, so I’m looking at the numbers for the University of Montreal (for undergraduate degrees only).

year enrolled students (Physics) enrolled students (Mathematics) enrolled students (Computer Science)
2001-02 102 237 172
2002-03 102 270 174
2003-04 119 335 134
2004-05 110 371 74

Of course, this is only one school, anyone’s got a more complete picture?