What is Computer Science?

Image of a computer scientist for our FAQ on What is Computer Science

What is Computer Science A person considering a degree may wonder what computer science is. Because so many occupations involve the use of computers or the internet, it’s important to know what this concept and area of study includes. Understanding what computer science is could help you decide if this is the right career path for your skills and strengths.

General Study of Computers

In general, the concept of computing science refers to the study of computers. It begins with a fundamental understanding of how a computer makes calculations. The foundation of this science involves a lot of theory and the application of concepts such as
  • logic
  • physics
  • electrical engineering
  • mathematics
As a science, this area of study also focuses on the applications of:
  • what computers can do
  • how they are made
  • what can go wrong with them
  • how they can be improved


The hardware side of computing has a lot of overlap with physics and electrical engineering. The electrical engineering portion has to do with:
  • the wiring
  • physical connections
  • physical design
  • layout
  • use of space
  • relays
  • network setup
The hardware side of the science also involves understanding how the computer actually calculates. This gets into mathematics and physics. The mathematical foundation includes understanding binary expressions. It also includes how computers perform mathematical operations, such as adding and subtracting, in the binary system of coding. The physics aspect involves:
  • logic gates
  • the architecture of electron flow
  • the buildup of heat
  • how friction affects moving parts
  • how processes change over time
For example, the architecture of the computer’s processor involves concepts in:
  • physics
  • electrical engineering
  • math
  • logic


The science of computers also includes the software aspect. Software is the set of instructions that controls the functioning of the hardware. These sets of instructions are typically referred to as programs.  Computer engineers typically deal with the hardware aspect of computing. Programmers and computer scientists usually focus on the software aspects of computing. The software side of the science involves the development of programming languages. It also includes compilers, operating systems and applications. Computer programmers create:
  • computer source codes
  • algorithms
  • functions
Software developers focus more on:
  • the graphic design
  • user interface
  • user experience
The computer programmers write the code that creates the design. Related Resource: 20 Best Online Bachelor’s in Computer Science

Computer Science As a College Major

According to Tech Terms, another way to define computer science is as a college major. As a college major, computer science involves the study of:
  • computing
  • logic
  • algorithms
  • coding
  • data theory
Some typical courses in a computer science major include:
  • an introduction to computing
  • fundamental programming concepts
  • cryptography
  • data structures
  • networking concepts
  • analysis of algorithms
  • database systems
  • computing theory
  • computer graphics
  • video game design
The courses range from introductory or beginner to advanced or specialized. Many computer science majors develop an area of specialty, such as software design or information security. The study of computers, computing systems and their hardware and software continues to be an in-demand and growing field. Within it, there are many specialties, including:
  • computer programming
  • database analysis
  • website development
  • artificial intelligence
Knowing what computer science is helps in choosing  a college major and a person’s career path. Related Resources:

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