[iDC] Praxis-based Ph.D.s

Chris Shaw shaw at sfu.ca
Sat Jun 30 15:59:18 EDT 2007


With respect to Praxis in Science & Engineering, I think Geoffrey's 
statement is mistaken. In the Computer Sciences, there is
indeed a significant practice component to PhD research work, and often
a creative or inventive component. However, "making stuff" alone will
not get you a degree, no matter how much a PhD student may wish!

What gets you the degree is to answer some sort of significant question.
In CS, this is typically a "How" question. Eg. "How best to sort a list?"
"How best to mathematically represent a computer graphics surface?"

"How best to manipulate a 3D surface with 3D trackers?" (My thesis question)

The Thesis typically goes like this: the researcher identifies a Problem, 
proposes a solution, shows scientifically or mathematically that the
is better than other solutions.
The Praxis part is where the researcher builds an artifact (a system) to 
demonstrate/embody the solution. 
The Science part is where the researcher examines the artifact to 
experimentally compare the new artifact to some other good solution to the 

The main division in CS is between building a program (Applied CS people) vs

building a mathematical theory with Theorems and Proofs (Theory CS people)

Chris Shaw       Associate Professor +  Graduate Chair
shaw at sfu.ca      School of Interactive Arts & Technology, Simon Fraser U

-----Original Message-----
From: idc-bounces at mailman.thing.net [mailto:idc-bounces at mailman.thing.net]
On Behalf Of Geoffrey Alan Rhodes
Sent: June 29, 2007 7:59 AM
To: idc list
Subject: Re: [iDC] Praxis-based Ph.D.s

Praxis PHDs in 'Media Philosophy/Art' from another side:

I agree with some that there is a fundamental disconnect between PHDs  
in the humanities and art practice.  I think one reason that PHDs in  
media arts have experienced good success in the technical realm, and  
in longer standing, such as MIT's Media Lab, is that engineering and  
science have a long tradition of practice as scholarship.  The  

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