Informatik, TU Wien

At the Core of Computing: Operational (Re-)Construction

Lecture by guest professor Christiane Floyd.

The notion of 'Computing' covers scientific fields like ‘informatics’, ‘computer science’, as well as the practice of developing computing systems and artifacts in both research and industry. ‘To be computed’ does not refer to calculation only, but to reframing a problem so as to make it accessible to operationalization. Computing systems and artifacts are so pervasive in society, they exhibit such an enormous diversity and transform our lives in so widely divergent fields that the question arises: what ties together the scientific disciplines underlying their construction and how do they relate to other sciences?
In this talk, we will be concerned with two questions:

1. What is the place of Computing in the landscape of the sciences?
2. How can we characterize Computing in the field of tension between the formal, the technical and the social world?

It will be argued that Computing comes with a thinking style – operational (re-)construction – which can be applied to most any area of interest and will be explored in some depth in the talk.


Christiane Floyd is Professor emerita for Software Engineering of the University of Hamburg and Honorary Professor at TU Wien. She was the first female professor for Computer Science in Germany. Floyd did her Ph.D. in Mathematics at the University of Vienna in 1966. From 1966 to 1968 she worked as a software engineer for Siemens, Munich. From 1968 to 1973 she was working and teaching at Stanford University. She was also senior consultant for Softlab, Munich (1973-1977). Floyd served as professor at TU Berlin (1978-1991) and University of Hamburg (1991- 2008). Together with her research group STEPS she developed a participative and evolutionary approach for software development, which laid the epistemological foundation for the field of software engineering. In 1987 she joined the board of FIfF (Forum InformatikerInnen für Frieden und gesellschaftliche Verantwortung) as a founding member and chair. In this position Floyd worked on the frontier for increasing the societal responsibility of Computer Science. In 2000 she acted as dean for the research area ICT within the “Internationale Frauenuniversität“. Since 2006 she has furthermore been active in the field of ICT for Development in Ethiopia. 



The lecture series on research talks by the visiting professors of the PhD School can also be credited as an elective course for students of master programs of computer science: TISS