School of Science and Engineering

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What is Computer Science?

What is Computer Science?

Computer Science is about understanding how computers are put together and how computer programs can turn them into very useful devices.  Computer programs deal with two things – computation and information processing. Computer scientists try to make these activities as efficient as possible and at the same time provide them with a kind of intelligence, albeit artificial.  Efficiency comes from using the best possible algorithms so computer scientists study algorithms.  However,  computers must also solve real-world problems under real-world constraints. This means that computer scientists also concern themselves with knowing the best choice and mix of hardware and software to solve a given problem.  Computer scientists often focus on information handling and manipulation. The web, for example, is all about information. The search engine sites we use are able to easily handle their millions of clients precisely because computer scientists have devised the fastest search algorithms and most efficient way to deliver web content to your browser.

Computer Science is a young science; a veritable babe-in-arms relative to other sciences. Over the past half century we have seen Artificial Intelligence, Neural Networks, Software Engineering, the Web, Quantum Computing, Computational Biology and many other subfields of Computer Science come to public awareness. Computer Science has proven useful to many other scientific disciplines. It is hard to say if Computational Biology, for example, is  Biology or Computer Science since the topics studied are biological but most of the tools are computational!

Being young, Computer Science still mixes the theoretical with the experimental with the practical. This makes Computer Science more flexible and less rigidly defined than some other sciences.  More mature sciences have separated these activities into recognizably different disciplines, at times creating artificial roadblocks to discovery.

Computer Science - part theoretical, part practical, all discipline.