Computer science is a coveted job field for many people.
According to Indeed, the average salary for someone working in computer science is $108,348.
The term “computer science,” however, can be a little misleading.
It may make you think that when you’re studying computer science in college, you’re actually learning a science.
Here’s what you need to know about computer science and whether it’s real science or something else.
Is Computer Science A Science?
Yes, some people consider computer science a science.
That’s because computer science focuses on several different elements.
There’s an emphasis on critical thinking which is important in science.
Other aspects of computer science are the ability to formulate, produce, and analyze data.
These are also essential aspects of science.
However, some argue that computer science isn’t a science.
That’s because it deals with things like programming language and mathematics.
Furthermore, it doesn’t always pertain to the physical or natural world which is what most science is focused on.
Instead, it focuses on the hardware and software of computers.
As such, whether computer science is a science or not is a matter of debate.
Why Computer Science Is A Science
Since some believe that computer science is a science and others do not, it’s worth exploring the reasons why computer science can be considered a science.
Here are some of the reasons supporting the idea that computer science is a science.
1. Formal Science
One of the reasons why you might argue that computer science is a science is that it falls under the description of formal science.
Formal science focuses on theoretical formal systems.
One example of formal science is mathematics.
Statistics and linguistics are two other examples.
Computer science often uses mathematics to generate algorithms.
Since computer science is essentially a form of mathematics, you could say that it is a formal science.
As such, it’s science.
It’s also worth mentioning that some might argue that using computer science is a type of engineering.
However, even if this is the case, you’re still employing formal science.
It’s still science.
2. It’s A Different Type Of Natural Science
One of the reasons why you might not feel that computer science is a science is because it doesn’t deal with the natural world.
One could argue that it does deal with the natural world to an extent, but not in the same way that chemistry or biology does.
In biology, the scientist is essentially studying an algorithm in nature.
A computer scientist is doing the same thing, but their environment is software rather than nature.
It’s not unlike using calculus to understand gravity.
Computer scientists use their own algorithms to study various aspects of programming and other problems related to software.
A final reason why computer science is a science has to do with debugging.
A strong argument against computer science not being a science is because it doesn’t use the scientific method.
There isn’t a theory or hypothesis that is rigorously tested and analyzed.
That’s actually not true.
In computer science, this is called debugging.
When a computer scientist debugs, they’re essentially trying out a piece of code to see if it returns the result that they want.
If it doesn’t, then the code, or hypothesis, gets changed to something else.
They then test the code, or hypothesis, to determine if it returns the right result.
If it does, then the code gets validated or proven.
A computer scientist may spend a lot of time perfecting a code or inventing it on the spot.
They’re analyzing what’s working and what isn’t.
As such, they’re employing the scientific method—just in a slightly different way.
Why Isn’t Computer Science A Science?
Although there are arguments that you could make for computer science being a real science, there are also arguments you could make against it.
Here are some of the reasons why computer science isn’t a real science.
1. Focus On Engineering
Perhaps one of the biggest reasons why some people don’t see computer science as a real science is because they see it as something akin to engineering.
Software engineering, for example, often falls under the umbrella of computer science.
You could also argue that the way in which you apply computer science can make it seem like it’s engineering and not science.
Computer science isn’t a real science because it’s more similar to engineering.
2. Art And Design
Another reason some people might say that computer science isn’t a real science is that there’s a focus on art and design, too.
When designing user interfaces or websites, for example, a lot of detail goes into the design.
That includes making and manipulating graphics as well as ensuring that the interface is easy to read and use.
These are elements of art and design and not science.
If an individual studies computer science and is focusing on user interfaces and website design, then you could argue that they’re studying art and design and not science.
3. Doesn’t Deal With The Physical And Natural World
A final reason why you might argue that computer science isn’t a real science is that it doesn’t interact with or involve the physical or natural world.
For example, science is all about the examination of the physical and natural world and trying to make sense of it all.
Biology, for example, is used to determine how living things operate in hopes of curing diseases or even extending lifespans.
Chemistry focuses on how certain elements interact with each other in hopes of inventing new materials that help the world.
Computer science starts and stops with hardware and software.
While you might be able to use it to create models that deal with chemistry and biology, it isn’t chemistry or biology in itself.
Since it doesn’t involve or interact with the physical and natural world, it isn’t a real science.
What Is Computer Science?
To better understand whether computer science is a real science or not, it’s worth knowing what computer science is.
At its heart, computer science aims to help people learn how to create, and not just use, new technologies.
Some of the topics that computer science usually covers include:
- Algorithmic problem-solving
- Computing data
- Data analysis
- Human-computer interaction
- Modeling real-world problems
- Simulating real-world problems
- Creating graphics
- Manipulating graphics
- Web design
- Ethical and social issues in computing
Clearly, several topics fall under the umbrella of computer science.
One could even argue that you could get a different degree in each one.
Most computer science degrees include classes where you learn all of the above.
You might even choose to enhance your education with a master’s degree.
Depending on what type of career you want to have, you’ll want to make sure that you focus on the right area of computer science.
Otherwise, you might know how to do one thing well but lack the skills you need to perform your job.
How Is Computer Science Used In Various Careers?
To help you understand which specific topic under the computer science umbrella you should be studying, it’s worth first examining which career fields use what types of computer science.
Here are some examples of some career fields and how computer science applies to them.
1. Information Technology
Perhaps the area that uses computer science the most is the information technology field.
There’s no shortage of ways that you can use a computer science degree in this field.
One example is developing security software for a company.
With hackers using more sophisticated methods and hardware to infiltrate systems, it’s more important than ever for a company to be able to defend itself.
You can help them on the front lines by designing and implementing security software.
The great thing about computer science is that it deals with both software and hardware.
If you’re not a fan of writing code, for example, then you can always choose to focus more on the security hardware side.
Outside of security, you can also focus on creating mobile communication devices.
Chat apps and social apps are hugely popular and don’t seem to be going anywhere.
For a while, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter reigned supreme.
However, YouTube and TikTok joined the fray and started amassing large numbers of users.
Your computer science degree could help you create the next big social app.
There’s no shortage of different networks or applications you could develop with a computer science degree in the mobile sector.
The manufacturing industry also benefits from using computer science.
If you’re working with manufacturing companies, one of the best things you can do is simulate models for them.
For example, if they have a prototype in mind, they will likely want to know some information about certain projections first.
They might want to know how much the product might cost them.
You can run algorithms and show them how much it will cost their business to produce the item.
They might find that they don’t have the capital to launch that product just yet.
They might also want information about existing products that they have.
For example, they might want to know how customers feel about the latest launch of a new product.
You can collect information and analyze it for them.
The information can then show them any weaknesses that the product has.
This then allows them to improve the product and keep their customers happy.
Finally, you can help them determine if they need to market the product better.
You can run various tests that show what might happen if they increase marketing spending or decrease it.
All this information that you provide can help them make better decisions about their business which can help them generate more profit.
Using computer science in the manufacturing field is essential to a business’s success.
There’s also no shortage of things that you can do with computer science in healthcare.
If you’re someone who prefers to work in the research department, then you could become part of the new and exciting studies of DNA sequencing.
You can help researchers by quickly computing data based on the information that they feed to you.
You could end up saving them a lot of money and time by simply running algorithms through the computer instead.
There’s also the process of generating data from the sequencing that they perform.
It could take days, if not years, to sift through all that information to find anything useful.
With technology, you could get it all done in a matter of days, if not hours.
This allows researchers to move on to the next step of their plan.
There’s plenty of fun to be had for those who prefer to work with hardware and software, too.
For example, remote healthcare visits are becoming more popular.
You could design and build the next hardware or software that helps better connect patients with their doctors virtually.
You might even make it possible for a patient to never need to visit a doctor’s office again.
This is great for those who live in remote areas where there are no nearby healthcare offices.
It’s also helpful for the elderly who might not be able to travel as far.
Finally, if you prefer to work in security, then you can work to find new methods or improve existing security at hospitals to better protect patient information.
The healthcare sector is always looking for computer scientists.
Like manufacturing, the retail sector is another area that can benefit from computer science.
In retail, staying on top of trends can help you become an overnight success.
By having the right product available at the right time, a business can easily earn more than its projected profits.
However, it can be difficult to know what’s trending or what direction trends are going.
Computer science can help.
You can run algorithms to determine how long a trend is likely to last or where it’s headed next.
This information then lets retailers know which products they should push and which they should clear out of their inventory before it’s too late.
Computer science also helps them handle their inventory.
As any retailer knows, inventory can be a large expense if they have to rent additional space to store it.
They can save money by having a computer scientist generate models that can show them which products are worth keeping in storage and which are worth selling at discount prices.
By better understanding and using their inventory, retailers can save money and invest in themselves in other ways.
5. Weather Forecasting
As climate change starts to wreak havoc on the world, it’s more important than ever to have accurate weather predictions.
With tornados and snowstorms occurring in places where they are rare, having weather forecasts that accurately predict dangerous storms can save lives.
Computer science can help by examining data and forecasting potential weather problems in the future.
For example, a computer scientist can keep a close eye on possible storms that might turn into tornados or hurricanes.
With better forecasting, news stations can then alert their local population about it.
If something looks bleak, then they can inform the local population who can then make the decision to leave, hunker down, or take their chances.
Computer science in weather forecasting is also helpful for agriculture.
It can help farmers understand weather trends.
If the computer suggests that it’s going to be a particularly cold season, for example, then farmers know to plant crops that are more resistant to cold temperatures.
One of the most important things that computer science can help predict is rainfall.
If farmers know that there’s a possibility of a drought in the upcoming year, then they can plan ahead to mitigate crop loss and save money.
Computer science in weather forecasting is essential to help save lives and improve the quality of life in certain areas.
Computer science tends to lean toward being a real science.
However, you can also make arguments about it not being a real science.
Either way, computer science is extremely helpful when applied to various industries.NEXT: Who Owns The NBA? (2023 Updated)