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To: Potential Contributors to Computing Surveys
Subject: Invitation to discuss the article "On Computational Complexity and the Nature of Computer Science", by Juris Hartmanis
From: Peter Wegner, Incoming Editor in Chief, Computing Surveys
Reply to: kha@cs.brown.edu
You are invited to submit a discussion piece to Computing Surveys on topics arising from the recent Turing Award article by Juris Hartmanis in the October CACM. The overall topic of his article, "On Computational Complexity and the Nature of Computer Science," lends itself to both technical discussion of questions in theoretical computer science and broader discussion of policy issues relating to "Computing the Future". I hope you will be able to participate so that we can start a meaningful discussion on the research directions and goals of computer science in the pages of Computing Surveys. Juris has agreed to comment on accepted discussion items. Potential topics for discussion, all of them related to questions raised in the paper, are listed below:
1. What is the role of theory, and especially of complexity theory, in computer science? How does complexity relate to other theoretical areas of computer science like semantics?
2. What are the critical research questions for the next decade? How is the change from algorithmic to network and distributed computing technology affecting the paradigm of computer science research?
3. What distinguishes CS from the other sciences? Is it the wide range of scales, its concrete and general-purpose conceptual models, or something else.
4. What is the status of automata theory and what are its current challenges?
5. What is the status of complexity theory and what are its current challenges?
6. What is the status of the P = NP problem and what is its relevance to
broader issues?
7. What is the role of nondeterminism in algorithms research, are there connections to concurrency research?
8. What is the role of randomness, information theory, and Kolmogoroff complexity in theoretical research?
9. What is the role of algorithms in scalability and programming in the large?
10. What is the relation of theoretical and experimental computer science? Is the role of experiments changing as the field matures?
11. What is the role of theory in software engineering?
12. What is the relation of computer science to the physical sciences and to
engineering? Is computer science primarily an engineering discipline, an experimental disciline, a mathematical discipline, or a new discipline that borrows from other fields but has unique goals and perspectives?
13. What are the challenges in the area of metrics and experimentation?
14. What is the role of demonstration as an alternative to examination?
15. Is "demo or die" a real alternative to "publish or perish" in academic institutions?
16. What is the role of engineering and mathematical principles in computer science?
17. What is the role of aesthetics and taste in a world that is increasingly emphasizing the short-term relevance of research?
18. How central is algorithmic abstraction to practical computer science? Is it the primary abstraction or is it just one among many "levels of abstraction" for practical problem solving and system design?
19. Does a "natural computer scientist", say a software engineer, necessarily
think algorithmically?
20. What is the role of proofs and of interactive proofs? What are the limitations of proof techniques for programming in the large?
Your discussion should be between 500 and 1000 words, and should be received no later than Dec 15th for inclusion in the March 1995 issue of Computing Surveys. Please send a message to my secretary "kha@cs.brown.edu" with a copy to me "pw@cs.brown.edu" to let me know if you can participate in this "Computing Surveys Symposium".
Yours
Peter Wegner
Editor in Chief Computing Surveys (starting January 1995)