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While checking computational science meta today, I noticed that my perception about the proposal/site might not be true. mbq, the original person behind the proposal is not that much involved anymore and there has been some changes. See for example this meta question about their scope.

My perception was that the site is for "scientists doing science by heavy computations". But it seems that it might not be true anymore that there are questions about algorithms and distributed computing among other things. I am not saying that there is significant overlap right now (I haven't had time to go over the questions on the site) but I am now concerned about it.

See also my discussion with Geoff (one of pro-term moderators) here.

I don't think we want to see another SE site covering a significant part of our scope (as crypto.se did and hit the number of crypto questions on cstheory, see this).

Here are some question that I think we need to think about:

Do you think there is a problem about the current scope of computational sciences site? Do we need to be concerned about this?

What distinguishes questions that are suitable for cstheory from those on computational sciences and vic versa on overlapping topics (like algorithms, distributed computing, ...)? Is there a significant overlap?

What should we do if there is a significant overlap between the two sites?


As a side issue, I feel that we might have an even larger problem when the CS proposal launches if its scope is modified later in such a way that it contains cstheory, and I should say that the current attitude of the SE team about the proposal description is not comforting for me. As I said earlier, I support a math.se like version of CS, but I don't want it to start to significantly overlap with cstheory. I think the effect of crypto.se on our crypto questions is quite clear.

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  • $\begingroup$ most of their questions are way more applied than ours. I don't think we have to worry about them stealing questions as much as we have to worry about scicomp.SE developing completely independently of us. Last time I checked there was almost no overlap in top users :(. $\endgroup$ – Artem Kaznatcheev Feb 14 '12 at 3:13
  • $\begingroup$ I accepted Jeff's answer. It seems that although the topics might be similar the kind of questions being asked over here and on scicomp are quite different. $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Feb 20 '12 at 7:43
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After looking at the computational science site, I don't think there's any reason to be concerned about overlap. I saw no questions there that would be unambiguously in scope for cstheory. (In particular, the specific question you mention in your discussion with Geoff — about implementing an algorithm that is regularly assigned as homework in (my) algorithms classes — is clearly out of scope here.)

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks Jeff for checking this. By the way do you have a suggestion for how to distinguish question which are suitable for cstheory from those suitable for scicomp? I am asking this because I would like to add a line to our FAQ about scicomp. Do you think something like "usage of computation in science and engineering" would be reasonable? $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Feb 20 '12 at 7:42
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    $\begingroup$ I think the advertised scopes are sufficiently specific: "research-level questions in theoretical computer science" for TCS, and "computational methods used in technical disciplines" for scicomp. (I'm not likely to be a heavy user of scicomp, so I shouldn't suggest a revision to their self-description.) There is some overlap between those two descriptions, but that's appropriate — scientific computing and TCS do overlap, even at the research level. $\endgroup$ – Jeffε Feb 20 '12 at 8:49
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I haven't visit crypto.SE, and didn't realize that it was sucking away crypto questions. I agree that there's a some hostility on the part of SE admins towards cstheory, mainly because we didn't want to expand our scope to all of CS. But as for the new CS endeavour, isn't it really supposed to suck up the 'non-research-level' questions ? Would that necessarily threaten our community ?

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  • $\begingroup$ It seems so for now, but my concern is that this might change in the beta phase. ps: I would prefer if we concentrate in this discussion on the scope of Computational Sciences and whether it overlaps with cstheory's scope in a significant way or not. $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Feb 14 '12 at 0:49
  • $\begingroup$ as another side note, I think quantum computing is also got hit to a lesser extent since the launch of TP.SE. $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Feb 14 '12 at 3:01
  • $\begingroup$ I dont why there should be any reason for hostility. Mathoverflow and math.SE coexist and serve different purposes. Why should CSTheory and CS be any different? $\endgroup$ – Nicholas Mancuso Feb 15 '12 at 6:26
  • $\begingroup$ Mathoverflow is not a StackExchange site. cstheory.SE does not really fit the model the founders had in mind originally but made it through are51 nevertheless, so there are problems with people not grasping the idea. $\endgroup$ – Raphael Feb 15 '12 at 12:10
  • $\begingroup$ @Nicholas, I think the situation has improved, see [theoreticalphysics.se]. $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Feb 15 '12 at 18:22
  • $\begingroup$ @Kaveh, Indeed all of these quantum computing questions could have been asked here! theoreticalphysics.stackexchange.com/questions/tagged/… $\endgroup$ – Marcos Villagra Feb 16 '12 at 8:50

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