What is Computer Science?

Updated January 21, 2022 | Staff Writers

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What is Computer Science?

You probably have a pretty good idea of what a computer is, but perhaps you're unclear on what, exactly, computer science is all about. Is it really a science? What's scientific about it? When you study computer science in college, what types of things would you expect to learn? What types of careers are available in computer science? Let's dive in and gain a deeper understanding of computer science and what it entails.

Is Computer Science Truly a Science?

Expert opinion is divided about whether computer science is really a science. Peter J. Denning, who is a professor at the Naval Postgraduate School, argues that it is definitely a science. He says that in 2004 he conducted thorough checks and determined that computing satisfies all the scientific community's accepted criteria for being a science.

Professional computer scientist Jonah Kagan says that it is not a science. Kagan makes this argument because he says computer scientists cannot use the scientific method for analyzing the validity of the problems they are using computers to solve.

With good arguments having been presented on both sides of the debate, you're now empowered to formulate your own educated opinion about whether you think computer science is a legitimate science.

What Does a Computer Scientist Study?

It would be an oversimplification to say that computer science is a dedicated study of computers. The real point of computer science is to study the methodologies involved with using computers as a means to solve problems. These methodologies are constantly evolving as technology becomes progressively more advanced. They currently encompass topics relating to programming, programming languages, software creation, algorithms, networking, data analysis, artificial intelligence, computer networks and network security. Computer scientists study all these topics. They also dedicate considerable time to adapting these methodologies and using them to create useable applications for solving the world's problems.

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What Types of Careers Are Available in Computer Science?

Computer science and information technology is a field offering interesting work in a variety of specializations:

  • Computer and Information Research Scientist -- These innovators are conducting research, inventing new programming languages and applying brainpower to solve problems across multiple industries including healthcare, finance, engineering and others.
  • Computer Science Teacher -- To educate the next generation of computer science professionals, talented instructors are needed who have both clear communication abilities and advanced computer science skills.
  • Computer Programmer -- Computer programmers specialize in coding, testing and troubleshooting, frequently with an emphasis on creating new software that will help its intended user base improve efficiency or solve perplexing problems.
  • Information Security Analyst -- These professionals apply their computer science expertise and proactively work to prevent security breaches of their employers' computer systems.
  • Cloud Architect -- Computer network architects with cloud experience are in rising demand as organizations scramble to move their operations from standalone systems into the interconnected world of the cloud. Analysts at the US Bureau of Labor┬áStatistics expect to see especially strong demand for cloud architects in the healthcare industry. However, they expect the traditional approach to network architecture to see a decrease in demand as more companies rush to adopt cloud computing technologies.

Now you're updated on many of the aspects that define computer science. You're aware of the debate about whether or not it is, indeed, a science. You have a better understanding of the type of analytical work that computer scientists perform, and you're informed about some of the exciting careers that are available in computer science. We hope these insights have enabled you to formulate a better understanding of what computer science is.

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