About Computer Science

WICS-logoWhat is computer science?

Computer science is like creating a recipe. You create a recipe for a cook; you create a program for a computer. When the cook is following your recipe, you are not there to make corrections so your recipe must be complete and understandable. When the computer is executing your program, it needs, even more, precision because it cannot guess what you meant. You can tell a cook to bring water to a boil because the cook understands what "boiling" means. But a computer is a complete newcomer and would also need instructions on how to heat the water and determine when the water has begun to boil. In order to give computers specific instructions, computer scientists learn programming languages which they use to speak to the computer.

What does a Computer Scientist do?

The problems solved by computer scientists are broad. How can we predict which stocks to invest in? How can we translate a phrase from French to English? How can we protect children from online predators? It's hard to imagine giving very precise instructions for completing these tasks, but that is precisely what a computer scientist does. A computer science degree will give you the skills you need to take a big problem, break it down into manageable chunks, and use various approaches to solve the problem.

What a Computer Scientist doesn't do:

Computer scientists are not the people at the IT help desk who help you use or fix your computer. They are also not the people who build your computer in the first place. Computer scientists are primarily the people creating software like Photoshop, Angry Birds, or G-mail.

Why should I try programming?

Learning to program provides individuals with a framework for solving problems. This framework is general and applicable to many fields. Programming makes you a competent problem solver. As technology becomes pervasive in our lives, programming is a valuable technical skill in any profession. Programming is also a very empowering skill that will give you the confidence to tackle interesting problems.