A Brief History of Scientific Computing


The concept of computing began as early as the cavemen who used their digits to perform calculations. In the realm of science and technology, the place where all the magic happens is the laboratory. However, scientific computing can only be said to have begun with the inventions of machines that solved mathematical problems. The simplest and most probably the earliest device to perform calculations is the abacus which was invented by the Chinese. Scientists like Blaise Pascal and Charles Babbage although at different times, dedicate their time and energy to invent mechanical machines to help with arithmetic problems. Charles Babbage had a breakthrough when he had the idea of the ‘analytical engine’. This is essentially where the concept of computers began. After this point more attention was being given to this field as we had a need to compute complex problems in order to understand the universe that we’re a part of. The following section of the article, talks briefly about the several stages of development in the field of computing.

Modern Numerical Analysis

Numerical analysis, as we went through earlier, has a rich past dating back to the cavemen. However, what we consider as modern numerical analysis began with the advent of programmable electronic computers which made it much faster and easier to solve large and very complex problems. Since the need to solve such problems was a need of almost every field of human interest, scientific informatics started to develop as a field that focuses on information processing and information systems.

Explosive Breakthroughs

As noted by Robert Anton Wilson, human knowledge has been increasingly doubling since the year 1 C.E. After programmable computers were developed enough, scientific computing started advancing much rapidly and scientists ventured into deeper analysis of mathematical models and quantitative analysis techniques. Numerical simulations and data analysis made way for some of the most useful practical applications that we still use today.

Current Day Computing

Today, we literally have millions of uses for computers and almost every industry on the globe makes use of computers in different ways to different ends. Biomarker Strategies is a company that is developing a live tumor cell testing platform which is expected to improve the treatment of cancer. We certainly have come a long way from turning gears in order to solve simple arithmetic problems. Life science informatics, data mining and information analysis, internet informatics and social computing, to name a few are the fields that are receiving much attention in the recent years.