Electronic – Is electronics driven by scientific papers


Is electronics driven by scientific publication, similar to other academic fields? Two famous publications I came across, Gordon Moore's seminal paper, and Leon Chua's discussion of the memristor, did not leave me breathless.

Coming from a mathematics background, I have been disappointed by electronics theory. No visionaries stand out, especially contemporary ones.

Is electronics simply not a publication-driven discipline? Are there examples of seminal papers where theory paved the way to technological breakthrought?

Best Answer

Electrical Engineering can be seen as the practical application of Physics. As such, EE is not so concerned about carefully controlled scientific studies and research. To make matters worse, there is a lot of money to be made in the EE field, so any research done tends to be done by well funded companies who have economic reasons to keep their results either a trade secret or to patent them.

Any scientific papers on EE that do get published are generally done by universities and published in journals more suited to physics or other hard sciences.

Electrical Engineering was not always this way. Up into the 1970's it was more common to see private corporations sharing information with the general public in the form of papers. But that really died off in the 1980's and is almost nonexistent today. I'm not sure exactly why that is. Around the same timeframe this industry has also become more lawsuit-happy and patent-happy which might have something to do with it.

It is not surprising that the papers and other work that people have mentioned in other answers and comments are all mostly pre-1980's.

There still is the IEEE and ACM groups which do help advance the state of the art somewhat. But even these have lost much of their impact in the past 25 years. The papers they publish now are either university studies (nothing wrong with those, really) or not exactly groundbreaking new research from corporations.

So today, EE is mostly the practical application of physics. Of course there is always some overlap between physics research and physics application, but these days there are not many published papers from that area of overlap.