Art Craft Soft Science Hard Science

I think that maybe human disciplines evolve through four stages.

I think that maybe human disciplines that study or build systems based on physical forces are mostly hard-science (physics, civil engineering, ...).

I think that maybe human disciplines that study or build systems based on information flow are mostly art/craft/soft-science (software, economics, business, psychology, ...).

I think that maybe software development is 10% art, 50% craft, 30% soft-science, and 10% hard-science (everybody will have their own numbers).

I think that maybe patterns help move software development from art and craft to soft science (they write down previously unwritable stuff).

Since software development is mostly unprovable, you can't use traditional science to study it. What can you use? UseJudgementNotProofs.

-- StanSilver
Before you can teach someone, you have to be able to do it.

It is easier to teach something interactively than to write down how to do it. And you have be able to write it down before you can write it down succinctly.

But what does this have to do with art, craft, and science? Experimental proof exists for art and craft as well as science. Music professors often do experiments about how to teach music (craft). Following some economic theories leads countries to economic ruin, while others lead to success. Biologists experiment, but they have do not have a small number of rules that imply everything.

So, I sympathize with your desire to get more written down, and I agree that a lot of things in software are too expensive to prove, but I think that this way of categorizing this is too simplistic.

-- RalphJohnson

I agree with Ralph, but I'll go further. Science is about discovering what it is not possible to construct. Art is about constructing things that have never been constructed before. Craft is about learning how to reproduce constructions. Engineering is about constructing the tools with which further construction can be crafted. And Engineering provides us with the tools we need in order to do Science. Nor does this cycle turn only in one direction. So there is no steady evolution here - ArtCraftEngineeringScience are not a continuum.

Now, as to Stan's thesis, here's a more traditional way to look at it:


Let me add another spectrum of disciplines, that I think makes more sense. This would be ArtCraftEngineeringScience. -- RobMandeville


See Also: PractitionersRejectFormalMethods



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