What Is Computer Science?


Last Update: 21 January 2007

Note: NEW or UPDATED material is highlighted

As we have seen, there are several different, but related, answers to the question "What is computer science?". Here is an outline summary of some of the answers.

Answers differ on:

  1. Category:

    1. science vs. …
    2. (systematic) "study" vs. …
    3. engineering

  2. Qualification ("kind" of "science" or "study"):

      1. mathematical vs. …
      2. empirical

      1. natural vs. …
      2. artificial

  3. Subject matter:

    1. computers (+ related phenomena)

      • ∴ empirical, artificial?

    2. algorithms (+ related phenomena)

      1. or: procedures (+ related phenomena)

      2. ∴ natural?, mathematical?, experimental?

    3. information (+ related phenomena)

      • ∴ natural?, mathematical?, experimental?

We'll discuss some (e.g., science vs. engineering, computers, algorithms (and procedures))—but not all (e.g., math vs. empirical vs. natural vs. artificial)—of these topics later in the semester. (Things not discussed are potential term-paper topics.) (Things discussed are potential final-exam topics, of course:-)

Copyright © 2004-2007 by William J. Rapaport ( rapaport@cse.buffalo.edu)
file: 584/S07/whatiscs-summary-20070121.html