Difficult things are difficult to describe”: developing European Computer Science

This talk, given by Dr Troy Kaighin Astarte on 24th March discusses the role of formal semantics of programming languages in setting an agenda for the newly forming science of computing. Troy contextualises European computing in the 1960s, discuss the emergence of programming language definition, and explore the dissolution of this research agenda. The talk finishes by showing how examining standard narratives about the development of a field can uncover new information on the communities and practices that shaped computer science and suggest ways that this can be used in contemporary research and teaching.

Troy is associated with various communities, including the British Society for the History of Mathematics, and the Newcastle University Historic Computing Committee. They are keen to open up Swansea’s History of Computing Collection for object-centred research and teaching. Troy is a member of the PROGRAMme interdisciplinary research group which takes a historical, philosophical, and technical look at the question “What is a program?”.

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