1.2. Computer Science

Despite its name, much of computer science is not focused on the study of computers themselves. Instead, computer scientists are more concerned with understanding what problems can be solved with computation and how we can most efficiently and appropriately solve those problems with algorithms. (An algorithm is simply a step by step process for solving a problem.)

Computer science tends to have a more theoretical focus than other computing disciplines. There is a core to the discipline that is closely related to ideas in math and logic. But the discipline also applies those theoretical tools to solve specific problems in areas from artificial intelligence, to graphics, to simulations, and many others.

Typical careers:

  1. Software Developer

  2. Computer Research Scientist


The first year of study generally focuses on programming - the essential skill needed to solve problems using a computer. Courses in the following years tend to be more focused on the theory of why software and hardware work and how to build software.

During their Jr and Sr years students usually can chose from classes to concentrate in a specific area (graphics, databases, artificial intelligence, computational biology, software development). For students who intend to become software developers, this is an important opportunity to take courses on software engineering and applied programming skills.

Computer science students generally need a strong core of mathematics to support the theoretical parts of their CS coursework.

Knowledge Domains:

This diagram illustrates the knowledge areas required in this field. A 5 represents a very high degree of required expertise while 1 represents a minimal amount.

Click a discipline label to enable or disable it in the visualization.
Materials on this page adapted with permission from from:
Association for Computing Machinery Curriculum Report
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