BELATED COMMENT to: `What is Informatics?' (2007)


  • Stefan Gruner Department of Computer Science University of Pretoria



Informatics, Heinz Zemanek, Abstract Objects


When I wrote my above-mentioned letter to the editor of SACJ several years ago (2007), I had not been aware of the fact that the Austrian computer pioneer Heinz Zemanek (1920-2014) had published an article of the same title already in the year 1972 in the Management Informatics journal. In that publication, Zemanek had characterised informatics as a new type of an engineering discipline - i.e.: the informatician emerges as new type of engineer for abstract objects (instead of material devices). His notion of 'abstract object' Zemanek had defined already four years earlier in the journal Elektronische Rechenanlagen (1968): abstract objects can generally represent both the structure of linguistic expressions as well as the various sub-states of finite automata. Zemanek reconfirmed his point of view in the Nachrichtentechnische Zeitschrift (1973), in which he stated with regard to the goals and purposes of informatics: "man braucht dazu Ingenieure neuer Art: sie hantieren mit abstrakten Objekten, wie sie bisher nur in der Mathematik vorkamen". Though further definitions of the term 'informatics' have been numerous since then, Zemanek's early definition continues to possess (i.m.h.o.) a true core, and is also by-and-large compatible with the opinion which I had expressed previously about this topic in this journal.






Letters to the Editor