479 Comments on “Proposition for the Structure of Informatics (Ac.Ed)”.

21 February 1975. 3 pages.

Dijkstra criticizes a governmental task group’s report on the need for, and a way of implementing, Informatics as an academic degree in the Netherlands.

1. It is written in very bad Dutch, and should have used half the pages to say so little.

2. It is very unclear what they address when speaking of Informatics Education.

3. The report spends only half a page on informatics as science, and 69.5 pages on informatics education.

4. It is guided solely by the “social needs” for informatics, and as a result the proposed level is only little above the professional education by NOVI (Dutch Education Institute for Informatics). It is focused on various application areas, not taking into account that some of them are already obsolete.

5. It takes its realisation so much for granted that it does not even try to assure that probability. As all sciences will profit from using the computer, large numbers of alpha, beta and gamma students must get a basic education in Informatics. Dijkstra fears it will be an education at the level of “filling in a punched card” of the Royal Dutch Mail Bank.

6. Apart from this basic education, the report proposes two types of academic degrees —Informatics I and business informatics BI— and it claims that Informatics must have its own faculty as a way to overcome the lag. Dijkstra disagrees that any such lag exists. He doubts whether a faculty can function in the absence of a scientific discipline to support it. A discipline is beginning to evolve for Informatics I, but is completely lacking for BI. That absence does not inhibit the committee from proposing some names for professors already. For Dijkstra creating this structure is like proposing a discipline in Medicine for curing incurable diseases: It attracts only quacks.

7. The report assures that their proposal eliminates the possibility for “ivory tower informatics,” so Dijkstra sarcastically prays that some one might enter unnoticed; but no, the proposal guarantees their exclusion.

8. As a postscript he shows an example of a piece of text with grammatical errors of a primary school level.