Dans son livre Things a Computer Scientist Rarely Talks About, Donald E. Knuth explique en quoi les informaticiens ont un point de vue spécifique, et comment ils sont apparus au milieu du vingtième siècle.
Q: You've referred several times to a computer scientist's perspective. How do you distinguish that from other points of view?
A: I have kind of a radical idea about this, but I've had it for 30 years now and still haven't found anything wrong with it. Namely, suppose someone asks “Why did computer science jell so fast during the 60s, all of a sudden becoming a department at almost every university in the world?” I answer that the reason is not to be found in the fact that computers are so valuable tools. There's not a department of Electron Microscope at every university, although electron microscopes are great and valuable tools.
I'm convinced that computer science grew so fast and is so vital today because there are people all over the world who have a peculiar way of thinking, a certain way of structuring knowledge in their heads, a mentality that we now associate with a discipline of its own. This mentality isn't sharply focused, in the space of all possible ways of thinking; but it's different enough from other ways—from the mentalities of physicists and mathematicians that I spoke of earlier—that the people who had it in the old days were scattered among many different departments, more or less orphans in their universities. Then suddenly, when it turned down that their way of thinking correlated well with being able to make a computer do tricks, these people found each other.