Computer Science is the new Physics

Expert Opinion and Ernie’s 3D pancake talk about the fact that Computer Science, as a field, might be doomed because no discipline at a large scale requires computer science, certainly not programming as we teach it.

I’d like to draw a comparison with Physics. Physics didn’t become irrelevant, but schools like UQAM closed down their Physics Department. This is what happens to a field when jobs are gone. I claim that Computer Science is where Physics was several years ago. Software Engineering jobs are not gone, not anymore than Electrical Engineering are gone. Information Technology jobs (security, networking, etc.) are not gone, not anymore than Financial Analyst jobs are gone. But, if you are contemplating a career in Software Engineering or Information Technology, why not go for a closely related degree? This is exactly what students will do.

UQAM being a bad example, since we don’t have a Physics degree anymore, so I’m looking at the numbers for the University of Montreal (for undergraduate degrees only).

year enrolled students (Physics) enrolled students (Mathematics) enrolled students (Computer Science)
2001-02 102 237 172
2002-03 102 270 174
2003-04 119 335 134
2004-05 110 371 74

Of course, this is only one school, anyone’s got a more complete picture?

Published by

Daniel Lemire

A computer science professor at the University of Quebec (TELUQ).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

To create code blocks or other preformatted text, indent by four spaces:

    This will be displayed in a monospaced font. The first four 
    spaces will be stripped off, but all other whitespace
    will be preserved.
    Markdown is turned off in code blocks:
     [This is not a link](

To create not a block, but an inline code span, use backticks:

Here is some inline `code`.

For more help see

You may subscribe to this blog by email.