The fate of combinatorics at Strathclyde

I have just received an email from Sergey Kitaev, one of the three combinatorialists at Strathclyde. As in many universities, they belong not to the mathematics department but to the computer science department. Kitaev informs me that the administrators of that department, in their infinite wisdom, have decided that the future of the department is best served by axing discrete mathematics. I won’t write a long post about this, but instead refer you to a post by Peter Cameron that says everything I would want to say about the decision, and does so extremely cogently. I recommend that you read it if this kind of decision worries you.

7 Responses to “The fate of combinatorics at Strathclyde”

  1. ulfarsson Says:

    Please see information at the following link about how to sign a petition protesting this move:

  2. Yiftach Barnea Says:

    Dear Tim,

    Are you a fellow of Trinity College? What do you say about their decision to pull out of USS and UCU’s call to boycott them?

  3. F68.10 Says:

    It’s just complete ignorance of the whole history of mathematics that led to develop group theory, for instance, into fruitful ideas for the whole of mathematics, physics and whatnot.

    Next step will be to claim that category theorists are just handling discrete arrows. It’s graphs, y’a know…

    Ridiculous, but it says everything about how the world is run.

    Nowadays, when the average village atheist come bumping into me enquiring with disdain whether I believe in a higher power or not, I always reply “Yes: Stupidity!”

    The question is not whether we’ll be able to withstand stupidity: we won’t. The only question is what we should do to circumvent assholes and their decisions.

  4. Derek Jones Says:

    I completely agree with the decision made by Strathclyde, and I wish other universities would follow its example.

    Computing departments have long has suffered from the association between computers and mathematics in the early years of the subject. Yes, mathematics has its uses in computing as an applied technique for solving problems. If mathematicians are interested in the mathematics of computation, let them do it in their own department.

    Computing is an engineering discipline, not a refuge for people who cannot get a job in a mathematics department.

    • Bob Says:

      Interesting ideas indeed Mr. Jones.
      However, I must disagree, respectfully. It is the opposite: CS as a scientific discipline is a branch of mathematics. It is not a branch of engineering. CS is not a refuge for people who cannot get a job in an engineering department.

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