Theoretic physics vs. programming. Which is more challenging?

An opinion from one that had a degree in theoretic physics:


“The next important moment in my life was in 1955 when I decided to become a programmer; I took that decision because I had concluded that of theoretic physics and programming, programming embodied the greatest intellectual challenge” – Edsger W. Dijkstra


What does that comment make you think? (Especially if you perform or manage programming activities)


The prima donna in me feels self praise, as first gut feeling because I consider myself a programmer.


Next I feel kind of remorse thinking “Do the pieces of software I have programmed with my own hands have the quality that makes them excel or reflect the mediocrity of a so-called programmer?”


Comments (6)

  1. Mr Blobby says:

    This is a stupid question.

    It was less stupid for Djikstra in 1955 because theoretical physics looked like being a ‘solved problem’, which hasn’t turned out to be the case. We still can’t solve the general Newtonian 3 body problem analytically, let alone unify QM and GR.

    Ask a more precise question please.


    Is undergraduate CS harder than undergraduate TP?

    How much hours would an intelligent beginner need to understand the average PhD thesis in CS versus the average PhD thesis in TP (from one of the top 20 universities in the world by research quality).

    Which has more possible approaches in research – Navier-Stokes equations or P=NP?

    As for whether any given individual should choose CS or TP, well, that’s a personal choice. There is scope for method and creativity in both. It’s not either/or either – just ask numerical relativists.

    All these are still stupid questions, but less stupid.

    Please stop your pointless philosophizing.

  2. Anon says:

    You shouldn’t. If "Mr Blobby" had anything close to a point of his own to make, he wouldn’t be writing inane comments on other people’s blogs.

  3. manhattan says:

    Marco, don’t pay attention to angry people. I enjoy reading your posts. They help me to put things into perspective and to see the big picture in what I do.