## 1.4 Information Technology Theory |

The Brief History of Computers and Information Technology above, gives us some understanding of just how new this concept is. The term "Information Technology" could best be interpreted as an attempt to find a name for a problem which is not yet well-understood. The fact that this term is used in the context of Education implies that it refers to an Educational Problem, and not a problem about either Information or Technology. This is not just one question, but quite a few. The questions are not clear to people on the education field because the ideas of what "Information" is are still evolving at the leading edge of computer advances. Some of the fundamental issues are:

- The notion that data is a valuable resource independant of the system for which it is an operational requirement. This notion was developed in the late 1960's and early 1970's.
- The notion that data has ''mass'' and that operations on data require ''degrees of energy''. This notion was explored with a full theoretical background in finite mathematics by Donald Knuth in ''The Art of Computer Programming''
- The notion of system, subsystem, and reuseable components. These notions are still under development.
- The related notions of object, encapsulation, methods and properties have been in practical use for 20 years but are still in flux.

Here in New Zealand the idea of IT in the educational field has been extended to **Information and Communications Technology** (ICT) to reflect the influence of the Web. While the basics of Information Technology are reasonably well understood, Communications Technology is a very clouded subject. At present it is a phenonmenon that is instigating social revolution and we dont know where it is going to lead.

Mathematicians have created symbolic models in order to solve real problems in their own time. The simplicity of these models allows them to be applied to new problems which can be recognised as exhibiting behaviour which conforms to a preexisting model. Most of the theory applied to computers and Information Technology was preexisting with a couple of exceptions. Because computers are finite calculating machines, the theories applicable to computers are the ones which tell us about finite problem solving. This is a very different emphasis to the Mathematics which has been taught for the last 100 years, which emphasised continuous functions of Real Numbers, the algebra of real numbers, differentiation and integration. This was a product of Newtonian Mechanics and the delevopment of engines.

The change of the School Mathematics curriculum to cater more to finite mathematics was overdue 30 years ago. But even now there is no place to go to find a mathematics course which covers the basic concepts that are used when working with computers. The information is scattered about as Topics within various distinct theories. Some of which are taught as Computer Science, and many of which are Topics taught at Masters level at University. None of them are scaled appropriately to be taught in Schools. However the first chapter of ''The Art of Computer Programming'' is the most accessible exposition of numerical finite mathematics available and an invaluable resource. However it does not cover topics such as language theory, logic, topology or function and relational theory.

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