I was asked the other day, exactly what is computer science and it made me think, you know we talk a lot about programming/coding and STEM but never really define what is computer science. Nor do we discuss the difference between computer science and programming. Often the two are used interchangeably but actually they are different.

The dictionary definition states: Computer science is the study of processes that interact with data and that can be represented as data in the form of programs. It enables the use of algorithms to manipulate, store, and communicate digital information.

Programming is defined as is the process of creating a set of instructions that tell a computer how to perform a task. 

In other words. Computer science is the study of what computers [can] do; programming (coding) is the practice of making computers do things and data is used to drive decisions and efficiency.

Computer scientists use technology to solve problems. They write software to make computers do new things or accomplish tasks more efficiently. They create applications for mobile devices, develop websites, and program software.

That said, Computer Science itself is a strongly mathematical science — Computational Mathematics might have been a better term. It involves the study of graph theory, algorithmic complexity, formal logic, automata, and in general any logical structure which can describe a transformation or response to input — algorithms.

Programming, by contrast, is what a person does when they use a programming language to transform an algorithm into something the machine can do. (That should make obvious the intimate connection to Computer Science, and where much of the confusion comes from.) A programmer (relative to an environment and language) should be able to take virtually any set of algorithms and transform them into a form both human- and machine-readable by writing code. A strong background in programming (as most CS degrees will provide) enables you to write better code.

Computer Science and Computer Programming is really the relationship between a science and its application.

Both computer science and computer programing, both are found in ALL areas of study. Below are some examples of where you can find both:

• In information technology—designing security software and hardware systems or developing mobile communication devices, networks and applications.

• In manufacturing—designing and using simulations to improve products. What is Computer Science and What do People Do Once They Know It?

• In healthcare—exploring the vast quantities of data produced by new DNA sequencing techniques, developing new remote monitoring systems for patients, or designing security and privacy for medical records.

• In retail—analyzing data to predict trends and improve inventory management. • In weather forecasting—developing and interpreting models that predict the behavior of hurricanes.

• In the arts—designing new special effects for movies or composing digital music.

• In financial services—designing and overseeing automated trading services.

In fact, over 70 percent of computing occupations are outside of the information technology industry: 9 percent are in information services, 12 percent are in financial services, 36 percent are in professional and business services, 7 percent are in government and public education services, and 12 percent are in manufacturing.

The field of computer science is only growing and the need to have computer programmers to implement will triple in the next 10 years. And the really amazing piece is there is a place for all skillsets.

Learn more this week as it is Computer Science Week!

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