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ioerror 11-27-2005 08:55 AM

Is software technology?
 
I don't understand why people keep calling software "technology". Why is this? The Oxford English Dictionary defines technology as "the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes". But software is just identifying patterns in, and the arrangement and transformation of, (binary) data. This is more related to mathematics than science, and mathematics is not technology. At least, it is not what I understand by "technology" (which is related to physical reality, not the abstract universe of mathematics).

Any thoughts?

Charred 11-27-2005 05:42 PM

All things can be described mathematically. Math is a major component of ALL branches of science, as well as a branch of science in its own right.

While mathematics itself is not "technology", the application of mathematical principles can be.

Hardware is designed using mathematical principles, as is the software used to drive it, ergo both are part-and-parcel with each other in comprising what we know as "technology."

J.W. 11-27-2005 09:16 PM

Well, there is such a thing as "computer science", and software is simply the way abstract ideas are expressed as practical applications. There is a ton of science behind such things as CAD (eg, simulating the aerodynamic performance of an airplane wing), oceanic and atmospheric modeling and protein folding all of which involve hard-core science, but are materialized via software. Thus, software does "apply scientific knowledge for [a] practical purpose"

Granted, because software isn't a tangible object, it might not fit the traditional defintion of "technology", but I definitely think it qualifies.

primo 11-27-2005 09:24 PM

I don't think that everything may be explained deterministically with math.

Anyway, the answer may be in etymology:
Technology is more like the technique + logia (logos: knowledge, discourse but not "logic").

Math is what is called as "exact science". This is why (I think) is not "technology". Software is more into engineering so it's more akin to the term.

sundialsvcs 11-27-2005 09:56 PM

Lots of schools sell "computer science" degrees, when the material actually studied has nothing to do with the actual discipline .. which is an obscure branch of applied mathematics.

I think that computer-programming is justifiably "technology," because it controls the behavior of a general purpose machine. A machine that is programmable, and adaptable to many different applications solely based upon the software used.

alred 11-27-2005 10:32 PM

how about softwares is also an economical product ...

maybe when a product needs brainstorming from diversify personals from very "different" domains like mathematicians , enginneers , chemists , physicists , educationers , biologists , archeologists , librarians , artists , software programmers , testers from the public , marketing sales persons and entrepreneurs and the public which pretty much also includes the before mentioned personals etc etc etc is when a product is also a technology(plus its also a researching technology??) ...


anyway ... i could be wrong with that ...


reason for edit :: changed "saleble product" to "economical product" , thinking about the free sofwares/open-sourced "economical" model


.


primo 11-27-2005 11:45 PM

Maybe a little off-topic, but I have the impression that the best programmers are electrical engineers, chemists, physicians and sometimes mathematicians. Computer Science professors appear to be more interested in theory. This is what I have seen at my university. There are always fabulous subjects that are treated more, but is another story whether they reach implementation. Sometimes it's the API in its platonic form that appeals more. Ideas such as "object oriented programming" were born from this. They favour abstraction over machine details. This is why electrical and electronic engineers are better at assembly too.

ket 11-28-2005 09:28 AM

I would certainly consider software as technology. It has parallel to other more "tangible" branch of science in the way that it follows the same steps in first conceived as concepts and then translating into final deliverable which can be deployed into production.


alllinuxcd.com

ioerror 12-02-2005 01:49 PM

My perception has always been that "technology" is specifically hardware related. I've always regarded software (i.e. the text of the source code) as equivalent to the "text" of a set of mathematical equations.

Quote:

Hardware is designed using mathematical principles, as is the software used to drive it, ergo both are part-and-parcel with each other in comprising what we know as "technology."
Quote:

There is a ton of science behind such things as CAD (eg, simulating the aerodynamic performance of an airplane wing), oceanic and atmospheric modeling and protein folding all of which involve hard-core science, but are materialized via software. Thus, software does "apply scientific knowledge for [a] practical purpose"
The operative word here is "apply". Who applies the software? Software can't run on it's own any more than a mathematical equation can solve itself. Does not the "application" of science (or anything else) require some act on the part of a physical entity (such as a human brain, or a cpu)? Yes, the software may be a representation of some particular scientific knowledge, just as a mathematical equation may be a representation of some physical law, but is the equation (software) itself the _application_ of that knowledge?

Quote:

I think that computer-programming is justifiably "technology," because it controls the behavior of a general purpose machine. A machine that is programmable, and adaptable to many different applications solely based upon the software used.
Quote:

Math is what is called as "exact science". This is why (I think) is not "technology". Software is more into engineering so it's more akin to the term.
Quote:

I would certainly consider software as technology. It has parallel to other more "tangible" branch of science in the way that it follows the same steps in first conceived as concepts and then translating into final deliverable which can be deployed into production.
These are good points. You are saying that, unlike pure mathematics, which deals with ideal qualities, software must endure the imperfections of reality. Thus, it becomes more of an iterative process of engineering (hence software engineer!), evolving towards a state of functioning, just as an electronic circuit may evolve through several iterations to overcome "bugs" such as stray capacitance and so on.

But is the finished software the same as the process of creating it? Certainly the _process_ (computer programming) is the "application of science", and thus "technology", but what of the _result_ (the source code)? E=mc**2 is not science but the process that led Einstein to this equation certainly was.

Hmmm, I still cannot reach a definite conclusion and my brain is starting to hurt. But I thank you all for your thoughts, there is much to consider.

ket 12-04-2005 04:25 AM

I think software's claim on technology is fairly solid. Most high tech weapons and defense equipments are inoperative without proper software nowadays. We are seeing the same trend in automobiles as well. FIAT is even considering MICROSOFT to develope software for their engine and transmission management system :eek: .



http://www.alllinuxcd.com

vharishankar 12-04-2005 06:49 AM

Software is technology.

Maybe the end users don't understand what goes into that little button which you click to reply to posts in this forum, but I can tell you that behind each little click on that little GUI you see on your monitor screens, there are literally millions of thousands of lines of code behind it... the work of millions of developers all over the world over several decades. The ones who wrote the lowest level assembly language to interface between machine and man right up to the ones who coded the bulletin board software.

I still marvel to think that behind all this is nothing but 0s and 1s. Signals and electrical pulses. Right from these electrical pulses and the magnetically encoded 0s and 1s which we call bits and bytes to the highest level object oriented programming code, the whole thing is one enormous technological machine working as a coherent whole.

Maybe people should give more credit to computer programmers and treat them as professionals.

Don't trivialize software. Instead imagine a world today where we're still using punched cards and paper tapes into huge monstrosities and think where we've come today from just four decades ago.

graemef 12-08-2005 08:20 AM

You can look at software from different perspectives, typically involving either science, technology or engineering. Which are the most common divisions within a University. Sure there may be art as well but I digress.

Each of these views are helpful in determining how the subject will be approached. A computer Scientist would look at the underlying theory, predominately mathematics, and when asked a question such as how efficient is this algorithm, the reply is to solve it mathematically - out comes discrete mathematics from the toolkit of life and Big Oh gets banded about. The engineer may be given the same question but would say, okay I'll find out by running the algorithm through a variety of test data, after some time the observed result may be linear, or logarithmic. And what of the technologist? I see them as a link between these two disciplines and if it is a complex algorithm then forget the maths let's just run it through some test data, whilst if it is a well known algorithm then mathematics can be used to describe the answer.

But how does this translate in the real world, one away from academia? A Computer scientist approach would typically focus on the algorithms, the performance, the correctness. The Engineer would build in safety checks and asserts whilst the technologist would take the building blocks of other work and put it together.

Obviously most programmers take a mixed approach, sometimes it would be the scientific approach looking at the performance of an algorithm in a specific bottleneck; and then it may be saying hey I don't know what this code does, better throw in a bucket load of exception and we'll learn what was wrong when it goes wrong. Now-a-days the approach of using frameworks and architectural paradigms, the remit of the technologist, is probably most common, but all views of the industry are valid, and important.

graeme

alred 12-08-2005 10:01 AM

quite true ...

cant really going into details , so allow me to lump these educationers , biologists(??) , archeologists , librarians , writers , artists of all kinds etc and etc into artists while the rest go into technicians who are pretty much include software programmers and also those from the "buisness side" ...

so , how about technicians and artists used to admire each other , i mean admire each others thoughts and inventions/works/crafts and learn from each other ??

but why nowadays , somehow , it seems that theres a need to "dilute" each others knowledge and skills ?? is it because "technologies" stop being the deliveries of social goodness ?? i mean a kind of "universal suffrages" in the form of the modernization(in some cases at least the achievment of minimum basics for all) of human living enviroments , in the form of educations and also the right to develop sovereignly without alienating hindrances of all kinds , especially of the economical type ...

probably it is the motivation that matters , i mean motivations behind a new or improved technology , which nowdays includes or at least involves softwares programs in many cases ...

.

graemef 12-08-2005 12:15 PM

Quote:

is it because "technologies" stop being the deliveries of social goodness ??
I've always believed that technology is neutral, but how you use it is of importance. The wheel can help you get from A to B much easier, it can also be used to run you over!

However in the past new thoughts new technologies have come along at a much slower pace and has thus allowed society to view and to judge it. Now the pace of development doesn't provide that comfort zone. For a real ethical issue go no further than the fields of genetics and stem cell research. But maybe I digress too much. However I do believe that science and art have a lot to learn from each other.

graeme.


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