About Me

Edgar Graham Daylight

Short CV:

Picture of Edgar

  • Ph.D. in software engineering at IMEC, Leuven (2000–2006).
  • Post-doc researcher at Virginia Tech (2006–2007).
  • MS in Logic at the University of Amsterdam (2007–2009).
  • Researcher in the history of software engineering (2010–2013) with positions at:
    • Korteweg-de Vries Institute for Mathematics, University of Amsterdam
    • Department of Technology Management, Eindhoven University of Technology
  • Guest lecturer at the University of Amsterdam (January 2014) and lecturer at Utrecht University (1 February 2014 – 31 August 2015).
  • Consultant in safety engineering (1 September 2015 - 31 August 2017).
  • Current positions: guest lecturer at KU Leuven in the history of computer science (since early 2017), post-doc researcher at Siegen University and member of the HaPoC Council (both since October 2017), and now also affiliated with Lille University (since April 2019).


Relevant publications:



Articles in international reviewed journals (selection)  

Contributions at international conferences, published in proceedings or book chapters (selection)

Invited talks and unpublished contributions at international events (selection)

  • With F. Cardone. Unbounded Nondeterminism: an Introduction for the Philosopher of Computing. PROGRAMme Workshop, Lille, 6-7 June 2019.
  • With L. De Mol. Halting Problems: A Historical Reading of a Paradigmatic Computer Science Problem.
    • Autumn workshop: formalisms at the interface with machines, languages and systems, Bertinoro, Italy, 16 October 2018.
    • ESHS conference, London, England, 15 September 2018.
  • Towards a History of Model-Modellee Conflations in Computer Science. Launch Event "What is a (Computer) Program?", Lille, France, 8 February 2018.
  • Strachey's Halting Problem. Prelaunch Event "What is a (Computer) Program?" - A Roundtable, Paris, France, 20 October 2017.
  • Category Mistakes in Computer Science at Large: Strachey's Halting Problem. Fourth International Conference on the History and Philosophy of Computing, Brno, Czech Republic, 4 October 2017.
  • Self-Driving Cars are the Zeppelins of the 21st Century: Towards Writing the Next Chapter in the History of Failed Technologies. World Humanities Conference, Liege, Belgium, 7 August 2017.
  • The long road from proof of concept to real-world autonomous driving. Podcar City Conference, Antwerp, 20 September 2016.
  • Category Mistakes in Computer Science. Siegen University Workshop: "Beyond ENIAC: Early Digital Platforms & Practices," 10-12 June 2016.
  • Using History to Make Software More Tangible. HaPoC Special Session at the 15th Congress on Logic, Methodology, and Philosophy of Science, Helsinki, 17 August 2015.
  • Towards a Dutch Perspective on the Beginnings of Machine-Independent Programming. One-hour lecture for the seminar "Interactions between logic, computer science and linguistics: history and philosophy. Organized by Liesbeth De Mol, University de Lille 3, UMR 8163 Savoirs, textes, langage, 22 April 2015.
  • From the Pluralistic Past to the Pluralistic Present in Programming. Monthly seminar on the Philosophy and History of Computing. Organized by Mael Pegny and Pierre Mounier-Kuhn in Paris, France, 15 January 2015.
  • With D. Nofre. The Absent Machine: The Making of Computer Science, 1955-1970. One-hour lecture for the Descartes Centre History of Science colloquium, Utrecht University, 16 December 2014.
  • The (non-)influence of Turing's abstract formal results on the development of computers & computer science. Two-hour lecture for the seminar `Foundations and Fundamental Concepts' at the Institute of Mathematics and Physics in Louvain-la-Neuve (Universite Catholique de Louvain), 3 February 2014.
  • Edsger W. Dijkstra in the 1980s: proving theorems by programming an ideal, non-existing, machine. iCHSTM, Manchester, July 2013.
  • Programming in the 1950s: from Loop Controlled Machines to Universal Turing Machines. Computability in Europe, Milan, July 2013.
  • A Hard Look at George Dyson's book "Turing's Cathedral". Turing in Context II, Brussels, October 2012.

Varia (selection)

  • An interview of E.G. Daylight by Dave Walden in autumn 2014.
  • E.G. Daylight. Turing's 1936 Paper and the first Dutch Computers. Written for the ACM blog on 19 August 2013.
  • E.G. Daylight. A short biography of Peter Naur, the 2005 Turing award winner. Written for the official ACM website on Turing award winners, May 2012. See http://amturing.acm.org/  
  • E.G. Daylight. Turing's 1936 Paper and the Origins of Computer Programming — as experienced by E.W. Dijkstra. Presentation for the Summer School on "Oral History and Technological Memory: Challenges in Studying European Pasts," University of Turku, Finland, 14 August 2009.


Contact:  egdaylight AT dijkstrascry DOT com


The main incentive for this blog in my words:

Just as an extensive account of Einstein's ideas aids us in grasping the constituents of our universe, research of Alan Turing's and Edsger Dijkstra's numerous writings helps crystallize some of the most important ideas underlying our digital society.

Another incentive, in Mary Hesse's 1980 words:

Where logic and observation are insufficient to determine scientific conclusions, there historians may look to social explanations to fill the gaps.


Expressing my frustration about `self-driving cars' and automation projects in general:

A software engineer who attempts to automate to the skies is like a doctor who prescribes too much antibiotics to his patients. Less can be more, also in the grand field of computing

  Edgar G. Daylight, January 2021