Encyclopedia  |   World Factbook  |   World Flags  |   Reference Tables  |   List of Lists     
   Academic Disciplines  |   Historical Timeline  |   Themed Timelines  |   Biographies  |   How-Tos     
Sponsor by The Tattoo Collection
Computer science
Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Computer science

In its most general sense, computer science (CS or compsci) is the study of computation and information processing, both in hardware and in software. In practice, computer science includes a variety of topics relating to computers, which range from the abstract analysis of algorithms, formal grammars, etc. to more concrete subjects like programming languages, software, and computer hardware. As a scientific discipline, it differs significantly from mathematics, programming, software engineering, and computer engineering, although these fields are often confused. Edsger Dijkstra is quoted as saying "Computer science is no more about computers than astronomy is about telescopes." The renowned physicist Richard Feynman said:
"Computer science is not as old as physics; it lags by a couple of hundred years. However, this does not mean that there is significantly less on the computer scientist's plate than on the physicist's: younger it may be, but it has had a far more intense upbringing!"

The Church-Turing thesis states that all known kinds of reasonable paradigms of computation are essentially equivalent in what they can do, although they vary in time and space efficiency. The thesis is not a mathematical theorem which can be proven, but a statement which requires empirical observation, usually in the form of a proof that two distinct computational schemes do in fact have the same computational power. This thesis is a fundamental principle of computer science. Most research in computer science has been related to von Neumann computerss or Turing machines (computers that do one small, deterministic task at a time). These models resemble most real computers in use today. Computer scientists also study other kinds of machines, some practical (like parallel machines) and some theoretical (like random, oracle, and quantum machines).

Computer scientists study what programs can and cannot do (see computability and artificial intelligence), how programs should efficiently perform specific tasks (see algorithms), how programs should store and retrieve specific kinds of information (see data structures and data bases), and how programs and people should communicate with each other (see human-computer interaction and user interfaces).

Computer science has roots in electrical engineering, mathematics and linguistics. In the last third of the 20th century computer science has become recognized as a distinct discipline and has developed its own methods and terminology.

The first computer science department in the United States was founded at Purdue University in 1962. The University of Cambridge in England, among others, taught CS prior to this, however at the time, CS was seen as a branch of mathematics, and not a separate department. Cambridge claims to have the world's oldest taught qualification in computing. Most universities today have specific departments devoted to computer science.

The highest honor in computer science is the Turing Award.

Table of contents
1 Related fields
2 Major fields of importance for computer science
3 History
4 Prominent pioneers in computer science
5 See also
6 External links

Related fields

Computer science is closely related to several other fields. These fields overlap considerably, though important differences exist

Major fields of importance for computer science

Mathematical foundations

Theoretical computer science


(see also
electrical engineering)

Computer systems organization

(see also
electrical engineering)


Data and information systems

Computing methodologies

Computer applications

Computing milieux


Prominent pioneers in computer science

See list of computer scientists for many more notables.

See also

External links