Talk:Computers Workgroup/Archive2

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This links from CZ_Talk:Computers_Workgroup - second archive, made on 2-15-09

Sub Workgroups?

"Computers" seems awfully broad to me. Perhaps we could break this down into more specific workgroups? Is there currently a policy on workgroup breadth? --Jim R. Wilson 12:23, 7 February 2007 (CST)

We eventually need a set of subgroups, but since we currently have only a handful of active people, it's really not worth it at this point. What were you thinking of working on? If you want to help out with personal computer, I'd be much obliged. -- ZachPruckowski (Talk) 12:29, 7 February 2007 (CST)

One thing I am planning to focus on, once we've recovered from the Slashdotting, is recruitment. Then we'll have more active editors and authors and more interest in making subgroups. In the meantime, could you be persuaded to pretend that there is a subgroup you desire and proceed to plan, and work on articles, on behalf of that group but in the context of the Computers group? (Make sense?) --Larry Sanger 12:33, 7 February 2007 (CST)

Hoo boy just got a look at the Slashdot article. Wow they're flaming all over the place. Oh well... at least it's coverage :) --Eric M Gearhart 04:30, 10 April 2007 (CDT)


Do we have any standard definition of pseudocode we should be using? If not, I would recommend that we adopt one for use whenever we are not talking about one particular language. This would bring a more consistent user experience for our readers. --Nick Johnson 09:53, 9 February 2007 (CST)

The above was moved over here by me -- ZachPruckowski (Talk) 10:41, 9 February 2007 (CST)
Although it's a nice idea, in practice I find it frustrating to read pseudocode. I'd rather see a snippet that "really can execute" in some common language: C, Java, VB, C++, C# or whatever. That way, a person can try to figure out what the code should really do, whereas with a made up language, it can become imprecise. Pat Palmer 10:44, 31 May 2007 (CDT)

Titular article, miscelleny

I would like to propose replacing the current content of the Computer article with a copy of Wikipedia's corresponding article. Myself and another editor rewrote the Wikipedia article a while back and, while it is far from perfect, I honestly think it is an improvement over the old Wikipedia revision upon which the current Citizendium article is based. There are a some things about it that will probably need changing to conform to this wiki's stylistic preferences, but on the whole I think it offers improved organization and topical coverage.

I was also wondering why the Citizendium article title uses the plural form of the word. The singular form seems like it would be the preferred encyclopedic style. In addition, would there be any objection to importing Wikipedia's CPU article, either on grounds of topical relevance or accuracy? I wrote the article myself, and it was a featured article on Wikipedia until recently when it was realized that it doesn't have sufficient citations to keep featured status. My apologies if this isn't the correct place to post this information, I'm still getting acquainted. -- Matt Britt

I think the term computers got inherited and copied onto the workgroup, to have the same word all over everything related to computers.

To change it would be a nuisance since every link used throughout CZ needs be changed manually. To use the WP article, by all means feel free to. Befoere however, move the computers home page to something like computers_old page. Robert Tito | Talk 19:31, 15 February 2007 (CST)

I would, but the page is move-protected. Is there any particular reason I shouldn't just replace the page text? -- Matt Britt
I came along just now, months after the above was written. In the meantime, I had rewritten the Computer article in Citizendium. The Wikipedia version is very good. I also like the one we have here now (though it could use more eyes). I now like that we offer a somewhat different discussion of the same topic. I think our History of computing article is still immature, as compared to the Wikipedia treatment of the same subject in the top-level computer article, but I imagine we'll eventually catch up in this any many other areas. Anyway, sorry I didn't see this request before I did the rewrite. Please let me know what you think of the current version of Computers (which has much less detail than its Wikipedia counterpart but does offer a different perspective). Pat Palmer 11:00, 31 May 2007 (CDT)

New look of workgroup page

Since the old workgroup page looked a little bit shabby I copied over content from other groups and added a few headings we might want to use to further organize us. It would be nice if we could remove the "old content of page" list of articles soon as that has no advantage over the automatic listing of Computers WG articles available. So please move any link you want to keep from there to e.g. "subtopics" or "most-wanted articles" soon.

--Markus Baumeister 18:46, 12 March 2007 (CDT)

wrong group I think

Paul you (or somebody) removed computers away from natural sciences. It should howver be there as it is based in: mathematics, physics, chemistry and is applied by these sciences. cheers. Robert Tito |  [[Talk]]  20:55, 13 March 2007 (CDT)

Larry moved this workgroup to the Applied Arts branch and I changed the banner to match it. --Paul Derry 21:12, 13 March 2007 (CDT)

Thanks Paul, I will have a verbal intermission with Larry :) (I wonder if popcorn and coke is available then as well). Anyway just thought it worth mentioning that computer/computer science here is a subdivision or sub-faculty of the faculty of mathematics and natural sciences. cheers and thanks for your great work. Robert Tito |  [[Talk]]  21:33, 13 March 2007 (CDT)

This is a matter for the Editorial Council to discuss, and when I get a chance I will finally get that group started. (We're also waiting on the new servers because that's where our many new mailing lists will live.)

The difference between natural, social, and applied is vague, but reasonably well understood, I should hope. If the focus of a broad area of study like comp sci is on applications of science to solve particular technological problems, it's "applied science" or "applied arts." That anyway will be my argument. --Larry Sanger 00:23, 14 March 2007 (CDT)

There has long been a tension between computer science as an academic discipline, and supposedly application oriented disciplines such as computer engineering. I say "supposedly" because I do not accept that theoretical computer science is of no practical interest, even if departments are scrambling to come up with programs called something else, as if "computer science" were an epithet! I'm also aware that many people argue that computer sience does not deserve to be considered a science because the object of study is not part of the natural world, but this is not a view that I think is generally held among professionals in the field. There is, of course, the well-known comment attrirbuted to Dijkstra (I'd love to find a definitive source here) that "computer science is no more about computers than astronomy is about telescopes". The essential object of study in computer science is computation in the abstact, much as the basic object of study in mathematics is number, quantity, structure or pattern. I don't claim that this makes computer science a natural science, but it is at least as out of place when classified as an applied art as it among the sciences. Greg Woodhouse 12:26, 9 April 2007 (CDT)

My way of resolving this has been to cross-categorize several articles with the Mathematics Workgroup. It's pretty easy to see where that needs to occur (the articles dealing with theory, algorithms, and discrete math cross both disciplines; however, hardware and operating systems do not). So on an article by article basis, we can cross-list as needed. If we get it right, the mathematicians won't argue with us. Pat Palmer 10:53, 31 May 2007 (CDT)
In many cases, that makes a lot of sense. Computability theory, quantum computing, neural networks, and noise in physical systems are a few examples of research areas that clearly fall under the natural sciences (mathematics and physics). There are other areas of research in computer science that clearly do not (programming methodology), and a whole continuum in between. With all due respect to Larry, this isn't his area of expertise, and it really ought to be up to experts in computer science to determine where their work naturally falls. I guess my basic criterion is whether or not research in the field leads to a greater understanding of fundamental physical phenomena, as opposed to computers per se. If computer science is only about building better computers, then I think the answer is clear (applied sciences). But I strongly disagree with the claim that computer science is fundamentally the study of how to build better computers. (Remember what Dijkstra had to say?) Greg Woodhouse 11:21, 31 May 2007 (CDT)
i complete agree! wow. wish I could say that more often :-) Pat Palmer 18:25, 2 June 2007 (CDT)

We need some structure on the main page

There is a very practical reason that we need more structure on the main page: volunteers are going to go there to get an idea of what needs to be done and where they can best focus their efforts. At present, we are effectively giving no guidance. Greg Woodhouse 12:30, 9 April 2007 (CDT)

I agree. Take it away! Redesign! --Larry Sanger 13:15, 9 April 2007 (CDT)

Well, I don't know if they qualify as "most wanted" (except maybe by me), but I filled in "most wanted articles" with a selection of fairly basic computer science topics. They should probably be moved elsewhere, because to me, "most wanted" means "most (often) requested". Greg Woodhouse 15:29, 9 April 2007 (CDT)

Yes please from an author give us some guidance on a concentrated effort for improving the Computers articles, rather than me just editing whatever randomly floats around in my head at that moment :) --Eric M Gearhart 17:52, 9 April 2007 (CDT)

I think working on networking topics is great. My experience has been there are a lot of people who really want to understand how networks work (and I'm talking about things like window size in TCP or the spanning tree algorithm used by bridges). I started out expecting that people wouldn't really care about low level details like this, but it just isn't so. Maybe there aren't a lot of people out there who really care about lambda calculus, but I'm confident that this is one area where we would be providing people with information they really want. Greg Woodhouse 18:30, 9 April 2007 (CDT)


for that reason - there have been many authors but not many editors active - that needed be put in the future. The structure however should be reflected in the main page. We can even discuss the correct name for this workgroup - as the way I see it it is science that gets an application in computers and not the other way around. Were it once common for many natural sciences to contribute to what now is known to computer science (materials science, physics, theoretical physics/chemistry etc) it now is more structured around the scientific approach both in the used materials (IBM lab, Intel) as in used algorithms and their development and use. It wouldn't come as a surprise to me if the idea of renaming computers into computer science will become the predominant idea as it not just is more accurate, it also shows the reversed dependency of computers to the computer science. Robert Tito |  Talk  12:40, 9 April 2007 (CDT)

Needed Articles?

Don't we need really basic articles like kernel, GUI and programmer before what's in this list? This sounds like a "theoretical computer science" list that was carried over from Wikipedia or something --Eric M Gearhart 16:01, 9 April 2007 (CDT)

It's not carried over from anything, just my thoughts about some (not all) basic computer science topics. By all means, include topics like kernel or operating system, too. Greg Woodhouse 16:08, 9 April 2007 (CDT) From the list I see missing: databases and the structs needed to tell their history and use. The two lists are very theoretical, but that is ok. As work on kernel is going on as we type, as well as programming languages etc. we need only decide how to make things coherent without offering too much detail on the top level(s). Robert Tito |  Talk  16:19, 9 April 2007 (CDT)

"How to make things coherent without offering too much detail on the top level(s)."
This was an argument of mine over at Talk:Central_processing_unit. That article is HUGE. It makes more sense to me to break articles like that up into "CPU Fabrication", "CPU design", "CPU architecutre", etc. The CPU article should give a brief overview and have a nice intro paragraph, but after that if the reader wants to "dig in deeper" to a particular section they can, with the expectation that the technical side of the "deeper" article will go up some --Eric M Gearhart 17:09, 9 April 2007 (CDT)
yes, for that reason you need to know before you start working on such articles how you want its structure to be. CPU for instance seems like one article highlighting all specs in a simple way, diverting into 3-4-5 or 6 articles digging deeper into details. Or you choose the start simple and delve deeper with each subsequent article. These thoughts need being drawn out in a basic structure before anything serious can be done, else it is a madhouse let out into a rollercoaster. Robert Tito |  Talk  17:43, 9 April 2007 (CDT)

All programming languages renamed?

Were articles about programming languages recently renamed from "Foo programming language" to "Foo (programming language)"? If so, where was the discussion of this issue (I can't find it.) --Nick Johnson 10:11, 12 April 2007 (CDT)

I don't know who made the change, and I agree it should have been discussed, but the change certainly makes sense. Greg Woodhouse 11:17, 12 April 2007 (CDT)

I've gone ahead and fixed a bunch of links to "Foo programming language", replacing them with "Foo (programming language)". There are probably many I missed. --Nick Johnson 11:18, 12 April 2007 (CDT)
Noooo! I don't agree at all. It makes it very difficult to link to these languages. If the link is C programming language that can go right into an article. Please reconsider using () in a title; it always annoys me and costs me a bunch of time to copy with it. Pat Palmer 10:48, 31 May 2007 (CDT)

man pages

A lot of computer languages and their associated libraries are documented in manual pages (in unix, we call them man pages). Almost any system using the GNU system, I believe these pages are covered by the GNU FDL. Can we import these to start off a lot of these language entries? --Nick Johnson 12:55, 13 April 2007 (CDT)

need to break out history parts from some articles

A lightbulb has just gone on for me, as I have been frequently arguing against approving various articles in Computers Workgroup. The reason nearly always comes down to the "history" part of the article. I propose that we start splitting out the "history" part of many technologies into separate articles. For example, I'd like to see:

[[computer network]] and [[history of computer networks]]
[[compiler]] and [[history of compilers]]
[[operating system]] and [[history of operating system]]
[[Windows]] and [[history of Windows]]
[[personal computer]] and [[history of personal computers]]
[[Computers]] and [[history of computing]]
[[virtual memory]] and [[history of virtual memory]]
[[cryptography]] and [[history of cryptography]]

The reason for this is, that each of these important technologies have undergone radical and rapid change over the decades since they were first introduced. I envision that history of computing would point out to all the other histories. I also think this will make it much easier to reach agreement on quick approval for compiler, whereas the history of compilers make take much longer to flesh out (and agree about). When we have been trying to combine all the history with the current description, I find it makes the article very long. Also, many times people are expert in a current technology but don't really know all about its history, because its not necessary to know it to work with it. This is the direction in which I find I am moving as an author. I hope other people will consider it as well. Pat Palmer 12:15, 14 May 2007 (CDT)

Pat I have been arguing for this for like... ever lol. Welcome to the bandwagon. We need good broken-out articles (to include History articles) for a lot 'o stuff --Eric M Gearhart 16:06, 14 May 2007 (CDT)

Is history of the operating system significant enough to separate from history of windows? --Robert W King 16:10, 14 May 2007 (CDT)

Yes most definitely! Windows' development stands on the shoulders of half a century of operating system theory. If we need good "History of Windows" and "History of Operating Systems" articles I can help out, but Windows itself is most definitely a descendant of many different ideas used in operating system design. --Eric M Gearhart 16:17, 14 May 2007 (CDT)
yes, I think two separate articles make sense. history of windows would probably be primarily a catalog of past versions, whereas history of operating systems would include certain versions of windows because/if they contained an annovation (such as a new implementation of virtual memory, or background processing for printing--whatever). Pat Palmer 13:17, 15 May 2007 (CDT)

The point is, when you get involved with a specific article, please pay attention to how it links in with other articles, including splitting out its history to a subarticle. If you start a history subarticle, please drop a note on Talk:history of computing so we can make sure that we add a blurb at an appropriate place in history of computing that summarizes the topic and then points off to your history subarticle. Pat Palmer 13:23, 15 May 2007 (CDT)

It's not exactly the same as foo and history-of-foo, but, since Internet Protocol is, I hope, ready for approval, that specific article, is not quite history-of-IP, but has some of that quality, setting the context for the almost-ready Internet Protocol version 4 and the in-progress Internet Protocol version 6. With the latter, since IPv6 is itself something of a moving target as it moves into deployment, the article is obviously in flex. Apropos of the structural matters mentioned here, there are also several (with more coming) subarticles on IPv6; it will also have much interaction with things such as Domain Name System. Anycast, which is general and I hope ready for approval, actually was spawned from a technique introduced in IPv6, and found generally useful; I didn't explore the ACID transaction principles in the Anycast article, and perhaps more needs to be said about the anycast server instances need, to a partial extent, to respect them. Howard C. Berkowitz 09:33, 17 September 2008 (CDT)

Naming of articles

Please try to avoid using parentheses in an article name. For example, Darwin_(operating_system) is difficult for other authors to use because it must be typed as [[Darwin_%28operating_system%29]]. Please consider using something like Darwin operating system instead; it is a much easier link for typing by other authors. Names such as Java which could pertain to multiple topics will need a disambiguation page. ...said Pat Palmer (talk) 01:17, 28 August 2007

Huh? Darwin (operating_system) works fine. J. Noel Chiappa 01:38, 24 October 2008 (UTC)
I profoundly disagree, and think we need to move to (bracket style). I've pointed this out on Talk:Closure (computer science). Java and Darwin are pretty much exceptions (others: Python, Ruby, Windows, Macintosh (but not Mac OS, X etc.), C - there are a fair few more). There is no reason why we should have an article titled JavaScript programming language rather than just JavaScript. There's no reason why we need to have Perl programming language rather than Perl. The only reason that I can see is a form of primitive disambiguation - to help distinguish Java programming language from, say, Java compiler. But, when someone says something like "On my CS degree, I learned Java", that's perfectly fine and we all know what they are referring to - they learned to use the Java programming language, and the compiler and everything else. Well, that thing which they learned on their CS degree is just called "Java", not "Java programming language". The computer that I am using runs "Windows" or "Mac OS X" or "Linux", not "Windows operating system", "Mac OS X operating system" or "Linux operating system". The rest of the Citizendium manages without this weird, inherited Wikipedist naming style, and I think that, with a little bit of common sense, so can the Computers Workgroup. I therefore suggest that we lop off all these unbracketed suffixes when there isn't going to be an possible ambiguity - JavaScript, COBOL, Linux etc. - and use brackets when there is. --Tom Morris 22:40, 6 January 2009 (UTC)

Computer progamming

I haven't done anything at Citizendium since last May, but I'm an experienced computer programmer, web developer, etc. I wonder if there's anything I could do around here. Nothing controversial like global warming, I mean. ;-) --Ed Poor 15:11, 21 January 2008 (CST)