Computer Science programs that don’t emphasize set theory and abstract algebra are a fraud. I didn’t know this when I started taking CS classes at a university in Alabama in 1992. They focused on engineering math like Calculus. Calculus is great, don’t get me wrong. It’s just not great for computer science. I’ve since learned that the ACM recommendations for a BS in CS specifically downplay Calculus in favor of math relevant to CS:

On the whole, we believe that it is often more appropriate for computer science students to take less calculus and more courses in discrete mathematics or other material more directly relevant to the practice of computer science.

Thanks to Wikipedia I have an inkling of why that university made the choices they did. It is the fault of Georg Cantor, the father of set theory. Apparently Christian theologians were not pleased at Cantor’s explanations of infinite sets as they felt it challenged the uniqueness and absoluteness of their God. Here’s the Wikipedia summary of Cantor’s offenses:

PoincarĂ© referred to Cantor’s ideas as a “grave disease” infecting the discipline of mathematics, and Kronecker’s public opposition and personal attacks included describing Cantor as a “scientific charlatan”, a “renegade” and a “corrupter of youth.”

So there you have it set theory’s author described as a corrupter of youth. Won’t somebody please think of the children? We should banish discrete math and all the naughtiness it engenders like computers and the Internet.

Last modified on 2007-09-17