Computational Thinking

The idea of computational thinking was popularized by Jeannette Wing in her 2006 article by that title. In that article, we read:

Computational thinking builds on the power and limits of computing processes, whether they are executed by a human or by a machine. Computational methods and models give us the courage to solve problems and design systems that no one of us would be capable of tackling alone. Computational thinking confronts the riddle of machine intelligence: What can humans do better than computers? and What can computers do better than humans? Most fundamentally it addresses the question: What is computable? Today, we know only parts of the answers to such questions.

In essence, 021Labs Discourse is a collective effort to find the lines between what computers and humans do best, and design programming languages where those lines are drawn.

To color a bit around the edges of how language comes into the relationship between man and machine, here is a passage from an article I wrote:

To understand Artcompiler you need to understand our secret: Language is the machine that makes the art. This is an insight we borrow from Sol LeWitt. His idea was that a sentence is isomorphic with the thing it describes. The words are as much the art as the thing it describes. He left it to draftsmen to “mechanically” render his art. Our draftsmen are programs called compilers. They, like LeWitt’s draftsmen, faithfully render the sentences that are given them.

Not all sentences are art, and not all art has corresponding language that can be compiled. Our mission is to discover and implement languages from which art can be computed.

For us, art is any creative object or activity. This includes fine art, visual design, information visualization, architecture, education, law, finance, and so on. Our job is to the design and implement languages that allow subject matter experts to compile sentences into solutions in their domain of work.

Computation is the greatest of human inventions since language itself. It is not just a bicycle for the mind as Steve Jobs famously said. It is an engine of progress for societies, present and future. Gutenberg enabled us to print words. Alan Turing and his peers enable us to turn words into action. Because of Turing, we are able to literally move mountains with our words. Artcompiler’s raison d’être is to help as many people as possible to move mountains with their words.