On HaPoC

The third conference on the History and Philosophy of Computing 2015 (HaPoC 2015) is the follow-up conference to the previous events organised in Paris (France)  in October 2013 (HaPoC 2013) and in Gent (Belgium) in November 2011 (HaPoC).

The event is promoted by the DHST Commission for the History and Philosophy of Computing (www.hapoc.org).

The HaPoC conferences started from the observation that given the significance of computing for modern society, the relevance of its history and philosophy can hardly be overestimated. Both the history and philosophy of computing have only started to develop as real disciplines in the ’80s and ’90s of the previous century, with the foundation of journals (e.g. the IEEE Annals on the History of Computing, Minds and Machines and the like) and associations (SIGCIS, CAP, . . . ), and the organization of conferences and workshops on a regular basis. The aim of the HaPoC conferences is to bring together these two streams: we are strongly convinced that an interplay between the researchers with an interest in the history and philosophy of computing can crucially add to the maturity of the field. 

Historically, the computer is born from the complex convergence of many traditions: Scientific calculating machines, business machines, electrical circuit design, war related research on communication systems, etc. The computer's appearance almost immediately sparked off the regimentation of an important body of mathematical and logical results (of which many were essentially an outgrowth of Hilbert's metamathematical programme) into parts of what was to become (theoretical) computer science. Later on, a similar process happened in the development of conceptual approaches to programming. Moreover, the computer has had and is having a considerable influence on all sciences and has made it possible to put quite some new research questions on the agenda, often resuscitating older questions.

This multiform origin of computing (fr. informatique) is still very much a living part of the discipline and can still be the basis of a meeting ground for philosophers, logicians, historians, mathematicians, computer scientists, programmers, sociologists, artists, etc. to talk and reflect about computing. A historical awareness of the evolution of computing not only helps to clarify the complex structure of the computing sciences, but it also provides an insight in what computing was, is and maybe could be in the future. Philosophy, on the other hand, helps to tackle some of the fundamental problems of computing, going from the limits of the “mathematicizing power of homo sapiens” to the design of feasible and concrete models of interactive processes. The HaPoC conferences want to bring all these researchers together to stimulate a dialogue of ideas and to facilitate an interplay of methods and concepts to help form and nurture the emerging and exciting field of history and philosophy of computing.

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