Computer science is the study of the processes that occur in computers where data transforms into programs that we can use. Through these programs, we can utilize information in digital form for communicating with each other, making calculations, and more. This field is particularly useful today given the huge increase in computer prevalence. Computers are an increasingly significant part of our everyday lives, performing somewhat mundane but helpful tasks. On the flip side, they are also significant in crucial fields like advancements in medicine, space exploration, risk management, and in creating new technology. In this category of Direct Knowledge, you can find computer science articles about the past, future, and present of advancements in the field.
History of Computer Science
Computers weren't always the sleek electronic machines we know and love. In fact, they weren't even always electronic. Originally, humans who performed computing tasks were called “computers”. As they were replaced by machines, the machines gained the title. Any machine that calculated numerical tasks was a “computer” in that it helped us compute things. Mechanical calculators appeared in the early 1600s, with a few different versions popping up in the following century. By the 1800s, they became powerful enough for use in office environments. Soon after, different forms of computation arose such as the use of punch cards.
In the early- to mid- 1900s, computer science as a field of study really grew its roots. The founding of the Watson Scientific Computing Laboratory by IBM and the close relationship with the associated university led to a focus on scientific research in the field. Thus, computer science as an academic discipline was born. Although it has only been around for less than a century, computer science has still contributed much to society. Following the Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions, it is said to mark the Information Revolution. That now puts us in the Information Age. More specifically, computer science has accomplished feats such as breaking the Enigma code, thus contributing to the end of World War II.
The history of the field is quite extensive and can't possibly fit here. But, you'll be able to find computer science articles in this category that further explore its development over time. These articles also go into more detail about the branches of computer science and their importance through the centuries.
Main Applications of Computer Science
The main application of computer science today is, in short, to make our lives easier and more enjoyable. We use it for performing complex computations in scientific and mathematical fields, further advancing other sciences. We also use it for organizing and keeping track of data. All of the data you store online for doctors, memberships, banking, and more depends on it. You can read the computer sciences articles in this category to find out more about data and how it affects all of us.
On the aesthetic side of things, computer graphics and visualizations make things not only more visually pleasing, but also easier to navigate. A page of text is harder to comprehend than color coded table, diagrams, or organized layouts.
Computer systems are the combination of software and hardware that make a computer useful for users. The area of computer science focusing on them aims to optimize them for various specific tasks, or just for general advances in performance.
Computer performance analysis lets computer scientists know how the system performs, and what can improve. Systems such as concurrent, parallel, and distributed systems can allow multiple computations to run simultaneously, increasing efficiency. Computer architecture, networks, security, and cryptography are other topics in this field.
Software engineering focuses on the programs and operating information that a computer uses to run. In this field, computer scientists modify and improve software to make it efficient, effective, and affordable. This involves applying engineering practices to both create and manufacture new software, as well as organizing, analyzing, and maintaining existing software.
Underlying the practical objectives of computer science are the theoretical frameworks that support and develop them. Theoretical computer science gets more into the mathematical and abstract ideas about how data structures and algorithms work.
This area looks at questions concerning what exactly can be computed, and how. It also looks at the quantification of information to help us understand and optimize the compressing, storing, and communicating of data. These theoretical ideas eventually apply to all other areas as the foundations for new programs and methods.
Careers in Computer Science
Take advantage of these computer science articles to learn about and possible start a career in the field. You can read here about inspiring computer scientists to show you the possible leaps you can make in your own journey. Their careers stand out from others due to individual skills (and sometimes luck). If you're passionate and dedicated, you could end up in a similar position. But even average careers of normal people in computer science offer the opportunity to indulge in interests such as math, science, engineering, and even language learning.
As far as education goes, many computer programmers and software developers will need a bachelor's degree. However, some employers will take someone with an associate's. Computer and information research scientists, on the other hand, will likely need a master's. Overall these fields are growing in terms of the number of jobs available, and all make a median pay over 80,000 dollars per year (with research scientists making up to 118,000 dollars).
Prepare to need to know multiple programming languages, although most professionals will specialize in certain ones. All computer scientists should be able to think analytically for creating systems and programs, but also creatively with a detail-oriented mindset for coming up with out-of-the-box solutions to problems. Creativity also helps in one of the most booming markets out there at the moment: making apps and new gadgets. With so many people coming up with new ideas, your needs to really stick out as something special. Keep up to date on new ideas with the computer science articles in this category.
Computer Science Books
Computers and computer science have integrated themselves into practically every facet of our lives. Markets and research in apps, games, and computer chips just keeps growing faster and faster all the time, and there are applications in other fields like micro-machines in medicine. Even kids are learning about computers and programming as young as elementary school! So, don’t get left behind in what’s now not only a popular field, but also a critically necessary one. The computer science books in this category can get you and keep you up to speed.
Man's New Best Friend
Computers are so much more than just bundles of plastic and metal. They hold entire worlds of information and can solve complex problems we couldn't dream of in the past. There's no doubt that computers have changed the world as we know it. The only question now is whether you'll change the world, too. With quality computer science books at your fingertips, it's not as hard as it might sound.
In computer science, you'll learn the inner workings of computers and software. This includes their design, application, development, and theory. Programming is also a key part of computer science, but it's just one element. You can find books on programming languages in this category alongside other topics.
For example, Think Java: How to Think Like a Computer Scientist is a concise guide not only to the language of Java but also to understanding web applications. Java is one of the more common languages for such web development, so it's a good place to start for understanding both. Similarly, Think Python: How to Think Like a Computer Scientist teaches basic computer science from the perspective of Python. These computer science books are great for beginners, and give a good amount of hands-on practice and exercises.
As you learn to code, you'll see that you also need to know what it is you aim to program. This might sound obvious, but understanding what it is the program is meant to do and just how it will accomplish the goal can be tricky. Math and logic are important in this area, as well as other interdisciplinary subjects. For example, algorithms and performance of the computer rely on knowledge outside of programming alone. Similarly, some other popular areas in the field these days are artificial intelligence, security, graphics, and bioinformatics.
Computer Science Books on Theory and Beyond
Algorithms and theories fall into what is called theoretical computer science. It's the more abstract area of the field, but still gets its motivation from practical computation. Computer systems then look at how computers really work, usually trying to improve performance. The most practical fields are those of applications such as graphics, AI, scientific computing, and human-computer interactions.
You'll notice that these various areas pretty much all require you to be familiar with multiple fields. That's why you'll find a range of interdisciplinary topics in this category that touch on all these subjects and how they relate to each other. And many of these practical computer science books give you practice with tutorials, instruction manuals, and software documentation.
A Mix of Skills
While computer science mainly looks at software and software systems, hardware is still an important aspect to keep in mind. Computer science applies to various types of hardware these days, from super computers to handheld devices like phones and smart watches.
You need to know what each device can handle, and knowing how the machine physically works can help you understand it a bit better and even help you fix problems that might occur. This is why we include books such as handbooks and how-to-guides on all a range of computer subjects, to make sure you can adapt to any situation.
Computer science has changed drastically over the last hundred years, and will probably keep doing so in years to come. Use the books here to catch up with what's been done, and be part of what happens next.