As the use of technology increases and its capabilities evolve, more and more technical terminology is bandied around. It seems like there’s a new tech trend or emerging sub-set almost daily. At times making it hard to keep up and remember what everything means.
The more traditionally known field of Computer Science has become muddied in modern times as other disciplines become prominent. With it often being confused for separate branches of computer technology or elements from within it.
A prime example of this being Computer Programming, a term that is used with Computer Science almost interchangeably. Many people consider them to be the same, but it’s certainly not the case.
This confusion is made worse by the lack of dedicated university level programming qualifications. Undergraduates typically have to study some form of Computer Science degree to obtain relevant programming skills.
While Computer Programming belongs to Computer Science, it is distinctive enough to be classed as a field in its own right. Read on for more clarity on how Computer Science is not the same as Programming.
Computer Science is a discipline of modern science that studies computer technologies and their development. It is an umbrella term that encompasses numerous fields. Which can generally be divided onto theoretical and practical disciplines.
These range from the theory of computation, data structure, coding theory, artificial intelligence, computer architecture, networks, security and more. Generally, it deals with the theoretical foundations of information, computation and the practical techniques for their implementation and application.
It’s a science strongly based on mathematical thinking. While learning the subject, you study graph theory, algorithmic complexity, formal logic and automata. All of which require advanced mathematical knowledge.
Computer Scientists can reason about the rules that govern computing systems. But they don’t necessarily need to know the fine details of how they are implemented. Instead, they develop efficient, scalable algorithms and anticipate logical reductions, while thinking rationally about what is controllable.
They invent and design new approaches to computing technology while improving and innovating existing technology. Studying and solving issues in many fields like business, science and medicine.
In the workplace, their typical duties are:
- Creating and improving computer software and hardware
- Exploring computing issues and developing theories and models that address them
- Working with scientists and engineers to solve computing problems
- Creating new tools and methods that improve how people work with computers
- Developing software systems to improve the overall computing experience
- Designing experiments that test their work and analyse the results
Many Computer Scientists will work with Electrical Engineers and Computer Hardware Engineers among other specialists, on projects with multifaceted issues.
Where Computer Science is the umbrella, Computer Programming is one of the many fields underneath it. For computers to be functional, someone needs to program a set of instructions that allow them to perform set tasks. That someone is a Computer Programmer, who uses computer programming languages to inform and instruct the computational system.
Computer programs are written in code. They make sure instructions are followed correctly and in sequential order. While explaining any correct or insufficient inputted data and displaying the results. They help computers know what to do next and can allow them to perform many sophisticated tasks unaided.
Computer Programmers use programming languages to transform an algorithm into instructions. Making any set of algorithms readable to both human and machine by using code. With the end goal of creating something, such as a piece of software, an image or a webpage. It is for this reason, programming is described as a mix of art and science. While it is both technical and analytical, it has an undeniable creative side to it.
Day-to-day, Computer Programmers write and test code so that applications and software programs function correctly. Taking designs from Software Engineers and Developers and turning them into easy to follow instructions. They’ll test new programs and applications, searching for and identifying any bugs or errors in the code. Which they’ll then spend time fixing and correcting.
In the workplace, their typical duties are:
- Writing computer programs in computer languages like C++, Python and Java
- Updating and developing current computer programs
- Testing programs, looking for errors and fixing any faults in the computer code
- Using an integrated development environment (IDE) to create and test code
- Utilising code libraries to simplify the writing of their code
Many Computer Programmers will work closely with and often have overlapping duties with Software Developers. In these instances, programmers get to experience development work such as designing programs. This involves planning the software, creating models and flowcharts that explain how the code will be written. Then writing and debugging that code as well as designing the application or systems interface.
Studying Computer Science and Programming
In a nutshell, Computer Science solves problems using computers and Computer Programming is the implementation of these solutions.
While the two fields are separate, by understanding one you will have a much better understanding of the other. For instance, understanding the theories behind how computers work can help you write better code. Which will be more easily understood by others and better express the algorithm you’re implementing.
Whereas knowing the best ways to provide instructions computers can follow, gives you a deeper understanding of computers altogether.
More courses are emerging that focus solely on teaching computer programming skills. While these are no doubt effective, they do not focus on the broader theoretical aspects that deepen your understanding.
There are many Computer Science courses which offer a significant programming component. And often this is considered the better way of achieving programming skills since you develop well-rounded computational knowledge.
You don’t need a Computer Science degree to become a Computer Programmer. However, many employers value this qualification because graduates have a deeper understanding of the behaviour of computer programs.
To become a Computer Scientist, you’ll typically need a master’s in Computer Science or a related field.
So, whatever your goal, studying a Computer Science qualification can help you achieve it.
An Access to Higher Education Diploma (Computer Science) or Access to Higher Education Diploma (Computer Science and Maths) explore this discipline. Covering many fascinating topics that will help you in your future profession.
These courses provide you with an equivalent qualification to three A Levels. So, you can apply to universities which accept Access to HE Diplomas once you successfully complete either one.
Enabling you to gain your degree and go onto pursue the computing career path of your choosing.
Study either one online, from home with Stonebridge Associated Colleges. As a leading UK distance learning provider, you can be assured you are gaining a valuable education.
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