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Desire in Context (11 Oct 2002)
Engineers often conceive of their work as solving problems usually by reorganizing the physical world, or in the case of computer science, by writing a program that alters a receptive machine. The literature is replete with methods for finding such solutions along with metrics for their efficiency, economy and completeness. But what exactly is the definition of a problem the supposed target of all this activity? Where do problems come from, what is their nature and is there a way of understanding them that will positively impact, not only what we consider a worthy solution, but what we consider good engineering? In this talk I will propose the definition for a problem as a desire in a context and look at the process of engineering through this useful, if slightly flawed, lens. One difficulty in this definition lies here: while most engineers are comfortable with the idea of context, desire is usually relegated to the domain of the designer. This broader definition, desire in context, conflates what are often treated as two distinct cultures.
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  90.00    (Rich Gold)  

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