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1.1 Is there a Computational Science Community?

The computational approach to doing science is inherently multi-disciplinary: it requires of its practitioners a firm grounding in applied mathematics and computer science in addition to a command of one or more scientific or engineering disciplines or in the high-tech arts. Thereby the role of computer science is similar to the role of mathematics in the mathematical sciences in that it provides the tools, ranging from networking and visualization tools to algorithms, that match modern computer architectures. Mathematics provides means to establish credibility of algorithms, such as error analysis, exact solutions and expansions, uniqueness proofs and theorems.

At this stage computational science may be thought of as a methodology common to a variety of sciences, which makes use of the same kind of tools. It is conceivable that computational science will one day be redefined as a discipline, following significant breakthroughs and as some of its major challenges are addressed. The computational science community is very diverse and includes researchers with a multitude of area-specific terminology and research methodologies. This community as a whole carries the responsibility to define quality research in this area and to set the standards for publications. The community has the task to assess what activities have value and to communicate results within this very diverse community. Furthermore, there is a need to develop training and education of future practitioners of computational science [3]. See the white paper by Chuck Swanson at Cray Research, Inc. for a list of institutions offering graduate and undergraduate programs in computational science (1994).