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Computer Science

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Study of the theory, experimentation, and engineering that form the
basis for the design and use of computers'devices that automatically
process information. traces its roots to work done by
English mathematician Charles Babbage, who first proposed a programmable
mechanical calculator in 1837. Until the advent of electronic digital
computers in the 1940s, computer science was not generally distinguished as
being separate from mathematics and engineering. Since then, it has
sprouted numerous branches of research that are unique to the discipline.

The Development of

Computer Science

Early work in the field of computer science during the late 1940s
and early 1950s focused on automating the process of making calculations
for use in science and engineering. Scientists and engineers developed
theoretical models of computation that enabled them to analyze how
efficient different approaches were in performing various calculations.
Computer science overlapped considerably during this time with the branch
of mathematics known as numerical analysis, which examines the accuracy and
precision of calculations.
As the use of computers expanded between the 1950s and the 1970s,
the focus of computer science broadened to include simplifying the use of
computers through programming languages'artificial languages used to
program computers, and operating systems'computer programs that provide a
useful interface between a computer and a user. During this time, computer
scientists were also experimenting with new applications and computer
designs, creating the first computer networks, and exploring relationships
between computation and thought.
In the 1970s, computer chip manufacturers began to mass-produce
microprocessors'the electronic circuitry that serves as the main
information processing center in a computer. This new technology
revolutionized the computer industry by dramatically reducing the cost of
building computers and greatly increasing they're processing speed. The
microprocessor made possible the advent of the personal computer, which
resulted in an explosion in the use of computer applications. Between the
early 1970s and 1980s, computer science rapidly expanded in an effort to
develop new applications for personal computers and to drive the
technological advances in the computing industry. Much of the earlier
research that had been done began to reach the public through personal
computers, which derived most of their early software from existing
concepts and systems.
Computer scientists continue to expand the frontiers of computer
and information systems by pioneering the designs of more complex, reliable,
and powerful computers; enabling networks of computers to efficiently
exchange vast amounts of information; and seeking ways to make computers
behave intelligently. As computers become an increasingly integral part of
modern society, computer scientists strive to solve new problems and invent
better methods of solving current problems.
The goals of computer science range from finding ways to better
educate people in the use of existing computers to highly speculative
research into technologies and approaches that may not be viable for
decades. Underlying all of these specific goals is the desire to better the
human condition today and in the future through the improved use of

Theory and Experiment

Computer science is a combination of theory, engineering, and
experimentation. In some cases, a computer scientist develops a theory,
then engineers a combination of computer hardware and software based on
that theory, and experimentally tests it. An example of such a theory-
driven approach is the development of new software engineering tools that
are then evaluated in actual use. In other cases, experimentation may
result in new theory, such as the discovery that an artificial neural
network exhibits behavior similar to neurons in the brain, leading to a new
theory in neurophysiology.
It might seem that the predictable nature of computers makes
experimentation unnecessary because the outcome of experiments should be
known in advance. However, when computer systems and their interactions
with the natural world become sufficiently complex, unforeseen behaviors
can result. Experimentation and the traditional scientific method are thus
key parts of computer science.

Major Branches of

Computer Science

Computer science can be divided into four main fields:

a) Software development
b) Computer architecture (hardware)
c) Human-computer interfacing (the design of the most efficient
ways for humans to use computers)
d) Artificial intelligence (the attempt to make computers behave

Software development is concerned with creating computer programs
that perform efficiently. Computer architecture is concerned with
developing optimal hardware for specific computational needs. The areas of
artificial intelligence (AI) and human-computer interfacing often involve
the development of both software and hardware to solve specific problems.

a) Software Development

In developing computer software, computer scientists and engineers
study various areas and techniques of software design, such as the best
types of programming languages and algorithms (see below) to use in
specific programs, how to efficiently store and retrieve information, and
the computational limits of certain software-computer combinations.
Software designers must consider many factors when developing a program.
Often, program performance in one area must be sacrificed for the sake of
the general performance of the software. For instance, since computers have
only a limited amount of memory, software designers must limit the number
of features they include in a program so that it will not require more
memory than the system it is designed for can supply.
Software engineering is an area of software development in which
computer scientists and engineers study methods and tools that facilitate
the efficient development of correct, reliable, and robust computer
programs. Research in this branch of computer science considers all the
phases of the software life cycle, which begins with a formal problem
specification, and progresses to the design of a solution, its
implementation as a program, testing of the program, and program
maintenance. Software engineers develop software tools and collections of
tools called programming environments to improve the development process.
For example, tools can help to manage the many components of a large
program that is being written by a team of programmers.
Algorithms and data structures are the building blocks of computer
programs. An algorithm is a precise step-by-step procedure for solving a
problem within a finite time and using a finite amount of memory. Common
algorithms include searching a collection of data, sorting data, and
numerical operations such as matrix multiplication. Data structures are
patterns for organizing information, and often represent relationships
between data values. Some common data structures are called lists, arrays,
records, stacks, queues, and trees.
Computer scientists continue to develop new algorithms and data
structures to solve new problems and improve the efficiency of existing
programs. One area of theoretical research is called algorithmic complexity.
Computer scientists in this field seek to develop techniques for
determining the inherent efficiency of algorithms with respect to one
another. Another area of theoretical research called computability theory
seeks to identify the inherent limits of computation.
Software engineers use programming languages to communicate
algorithms to a computer. Natural languages such as English are ambiguous'
meaning ...

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