What is Computer Science?

You might be surprised to learn that computer science is not the study of computers. A famous computer scientist named Edsgar Dijkstra once quipped that computers are to computer science what telescopes are to astronomy. The computer is an important tool in computer science, but it is not itself the object of study. Since a computer can carry out any process that we can describe, the real question is What processes can we describe? Put another way, the fundamental question of computer science is simply What can be computed?

Computer scientists use numerous techniques of investigation to answer this question. The three main ones are design, analysis, and experimentation. One way to demonstrate that a particular problem can be solved is to actually design a solution. That is, we develop a step-by-step process for achieving the desired result. Computer scientists call this an algorithm. That’s a fancy word that basically means “recipe.” The design of algorithms is one of the most important facets of computer science.