Computer Science – Areas to Work
As a discipline, computer science spans a range of topics from theoretical studies of algorithms and the limits of computation to the practical issues of implementing computing systems in hardware and software. CSAB, formerly called Computing Sciences Accreditation Board—which is made up of representatives of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), and the IEEE Computer Society (IEEE CS) identifies four areas that it considers crucial to the discipline of computer science: theory of computation, algorithms and data structures, programming methodology and languages, and computer elements and architecture. In addition to these four areas, CSAB also identifies fields such as software engineering, artificial intelligence, computer networking and communication, database systems, parallel computation, distributed computation, human–computer interaction, computer graphics, operating systems, and numerical and symbolic computation as being important areas of computer science.
Theoretical computer science
Theoretical Computer Science is mathematical and abstract in spirit, but it derives its motivation from practical and everyday computation. Its aim is to understand the nature of computation and, as a consequence of this understanding, provide more efficient methodologies. All papers introducing or studying mathematical, logic and formal concepts and methods are welcome, provided that their motivation is clearly drawn from the field of computing.
Theory of computation
According to Peter Denning, the fundamental question underlying computer science is, “What can be (efficiently) automated?” Theory of computation is focused on answering fundamental questions about what can be computed and what amount of resources are required to perform those computations. In an effort to answer the first question, computability theory examines which computational problems are solvable on various theoretical models of computation. The second question is addressed by computational complexity theory, which studies the time and space costs associated with different approaches to solving a multitude of computational problems.
Information and coding theory
Information theory is related to the quantification of information. This was developed by Claude Shannon to find fundamental limits on signal processing operations such as compressing data and on reliably storing and communicating data. Coding theory is the study of the properties of codes (systems for converting information from one form to another) and their fitness for a specific application. Codes are used for data compression, cryptography, error detection and correction, and more recently also for network coding. Codes are studied for the purpose of designing efficient and reliable data transmission methods.
Algorithms and data structures
Algorithms and data structures is the study of commonly used computational methods and their computational efficiency.
Programming language theory
Programming language theory is a branch of computer science that deals with the design, implementation, analysis, characterization, and classification of programming languagesand their individual features. It falls within the discipline of computer science, both depending on and affecting mathematics, software engineering, and linguistics. It is an active research area, with numerous dedicated academic journals.
Formal methods are a particular kind of mathematically based technique for the specification, development and verification of software and hardware systems. The use of formal methods for software and hardware design is motivated by the expectation that, as in other engineering disciplines, performing appropriate mathematical analysis can contribute to the reliability and robustness of a design. They form an important theoretical underpinning for software engineering, especially where safety or security is involved. Formal methods are a useful adjunct to software testing since they help avoid errors and can also give a framework for testing. For industrial use, tool support is required. However, the high cost of using formal methods means that they are usually only used in the development of high-integrity and life-critical systems, where safety or security is of utmost importance. Formal methods are best described as the application of a fairly broad variety of theoretical computer science fundamentals, in particular logic calculi, formal languages, automata theory, and program semantics, but also type systems and algebraic data types to problems in software and hardware specification and verification.
Applied computer science
Applied computer science aims at identifying certain computer science concepts that can be used directly in solving real world problems.
Artificial intelligence (AI) aims to or is required to synthesize goal-orientated processes such as problem-solving, decision-making, environmental adaptation, learning and communication found in humans and animals. From its origins in cybernetics and in the Dartmouth Conference (1956), artificial intelligence research has been necessarily cross-disciplinary, drawing on areas of expertise such as applied mathematics, symbolic logic, semiotics, electrical engineering, philosophy of mind, neurophysiology, and social intelligence. AI is associated in the popular mind with robotic development, but the main field of practical application has been as an embedded component in areas of software development, which require computational understanding. The starting-point in the late 1940s was Alan Turing‘s question “Can computers think?”, and the question remains effectively unanswered although the Turing test is still used to assess computer output on the scale of human intelligence. But the automation of evaluative and predictive tasks has been increasingly successful as a substitute for human monitoring and intervention in domains of computer application involving complex real-world data.
Computer architecture and engineering
Computer architecture, or digital computer organization, is the conceptual design and fundamental operational structure of a computer system. It focuses largely on the way by which the central processing unit performs internally and accesses addresses in memory. The field often involves disciplines of computer engineering and electrical engineering, selecting and interconnecting hardware components to create computers that meet functional, performance, and cost goals.
Computer performance analysis
Computer performance analysis is the study of work flowing through computers with the general goals of improving throughput, controlling response time, using resources efficiently, eliminating bottlenecks, and predicting performance under anticipated peak loads.
Computer graphics and visualization
Computer graphics is the study of digital visual contents, and involves synthesis and manipulation of image data. The study is connected to many other fields in computer science, including computer vision, image processing, and computational geometry, and is heavily applied in the fields of special effects and video games.
Computer security and cryptography
Computer security is a branch of computer technology, whose objective includes protection of information from unauthorized access, disruption, or modification while maintaining the accessibility and usability of the system for its intended users. Cryptography is the practice and study of hiding (encryption) and therefore deciphering (decryption) information. Modern cryptography is largely related to computer science, for many encryption and decryption algorithms are based on their computational complexity.
Computational science (or scientific computing) is the field of study concerned with constructing mathematical models and quantitative analysis techniques and using computers to analyze and solve scientific problems. In practical use, it is typically the application of computer simulation and other forms of computation to problems in various scientific disciplines.
This branch of computer science aims to manage networks between computers worldwide.
Concurrent, parallel and distributed systems
Concurrency is a property of systems in which several computations are executing simultaneously, and potentially interacting with each other. A number of mathematical models have been developed for general concurrent computation including Petri nets, process calculi and the Parallel Random Access Machine model. A distributed system extends the idea of concurrency onto multiple computers connected through a network. Computers within the same distributed system have their own private memory, and information is often exchanged among themselves to achieve a common goal.
A database is intended to organize, store, and retrieve large amounts of data easily. Digital databases are managed using database management systems to store, create, maintain, and search data, through database models and query languages.
Research that develops theories, principles, and guidelines for user interface designers, so they can create satisfactory user experiences with desktop, laptop, and mobile devices.
Software engineering is the study of designing, implementing, and modifying software in order to ensure it is of high quality, affordable, maintainable, and fast to build. It is a systematic approach to software design, involving the application of engineering practices to software. Software engineering deals with the organizing and analyzing of software—it doesn’t just deal with the creation or manufacture of new software, but its internal maintenance and arrangement. Both computer applications software engineers and computer systems software engineers are projected to be among the fastest growing occupations from 2008 to 2018.