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Towards an Applied Mathematics for Computer Science

Gunawardena, Jeremy


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Abstract: If you go up to a conventional engineer - someone who designs bridges or aeroplanes or concert halls or communication systems - and ask her what mathematical theorems she uses as part of the design process, you will get a long list. If you go up to a computer engineer - someone who designs microprocessors or operating systems or network protocols or traffic light controllers - and ask him the same question, you are likely to get an uncomprehending stare. Not only will he not be able to answer but he will give the impression that the question itself is ill-posed: what has mathematics got to do with building computer systems? This paradoxical and worrying discrepancy presents mathematics with tremendous challenges and opportunities in the years ahead. The present note expands upon an invited contribution to a panel discussion at the Symposium on Current and Future Directions in Applied Mathematics, held at the University of Notre Dame from 18-21 April 1996.

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