Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 33, No. 684. Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London Hosted by King's Digital Lab www.dhhumanist.org Submit to: firstname.lastname@example.org Date: 2020-03-23 06:50:09+00:00 From: Willard McCarty
Subject: recipes and algorithms Those who bake and/or cook as well as write code will be interested in Warren Sack's discussion of algorithms as recipes, mostly in Chapter 4 of The Software Arts (2019), beginning thus: > Algorithms as Recipes > > So, if algorithms are not mathematics or logic, then what are they? > Algorithms are part and parcel with what historian of science Pamela > Long describes as the long history of writings from and about the > mechanical arts, including "ancient writings related to technical > production, such as Hellenistic engineering books, as well as > writings tied to political and military praxis, including Xenophon's > Oeconomicus and Roman agricultural writings." This tradition > includes medieval guild regulations and continues on into today's > language of patent law and how-to books, and, crucially, this > tradition of the mechanical arts also includes recipes and > cookbooks. > > Knuth recognizes this direct connection to the arts but does not > pursue it with any rigor. In chapter 1 of the first volume of The Art > of Computer Programming, Knuth compares algorithms to recipes, > asserts that "a computer programmer can learn much by studying a good > recipe book ," and then admits that "the author has barely resisted > the temptation to name the present volume 'The Programmer's > Cookbook.'... His aim is to open up the gulf between algorithms as self-contained automatic machines and software more broadly conceived. In "Interactive foundations of computing" (1998), Peter Wegner likewise argues that, > Dumb algorithms become smart agents (embedded systems) when enhanced > by interaction. Algorithms are “dumb” and “blind” because they cannot > interact while they compute: they are autistic in precluding > interaction. In contrast, interactive systems model an external > reality more demanding and expressive than inner algorithmic > transformation rules. More on this topic would surely be welcome in our respective isolations. Yours, WM -- Willard McCarty (www.mccarty.org.uk/), Professor emeritus, Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London; Editor, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews (www.tandfonline.com/loi/yisr20) and Humanist (www.dhhumanist.org) _______________________________________________ Unsubscribe at: http://dhhumanist.org/Restricted List posts to: email@example.com List info and archives at at: http://dhhumanist.org Listmember interface at: http://dhhumanist.org/Restricted/ Subscribe at: http://dhhumanist.org/membership_form.php
Editor: Willard McCarty (King's College London, U.K.; Western Sydney University, Australia)
Software designer: Malgosia Askanas (Mind-Crafts)
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