Computer Science, A Distorted Concept?

A group of MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) undertaking an introductory course to computer science looked quite puzzled when their professor told them, “computer science is not about computers and not much of a science”. Many people perceive computer science as effective or efficient use technology by which people create, modify and share information in a variety of ways including text, sound, graphic and video. This myopic view tends to limit the broad purpose of computer science. At the end of the day such people push computers, especially personal computers to the centre stage, making it synonymous to computer science. It must be noted, however, that computers are not synonymous to computer science just as geometry is not about surveying instruments. Many years ago, the ancient Egyptians sought means of measuring the earth. Their quest and determination to make their mission a reality led to the introduction of early geometry. Before long the world developed a natural tendency to linking surveying the earth surface to geometry, which could be called an aid or a means to reaching the end. The original aim for the introduction of geometry, however, was to formalize equations on how to do things in their attempt to reach a precise measure or description of their activities. This is similar to the role of the computer in computer science just like microscopes in the study of Biology. Generations to come may wonder what kind of weird tool we were using in the field of computer science. The paradigm may change entirely and consequently distort our notion of associating computers to computer science. The Chinese abacus and the African game oware (Oware Primitive, Prof Nii Narku Quaynor) have equally been useful in the fundamental stages of computing

Computer science as an academic and professional field is very distinct from other sciences. The Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) defines computer science as “the study of computers and algorithmic processes, including their principles, their hardware and software designs, their applications, and their impact on society”. The free web encyclopaedia, wikipedia, has this to say on computer science: Computer science (or computing science) is the study of the theoretical foundations of information and computation and their implementation and application in computer systems. Computer science has many sub-fields; some emphasize the computation of specific results (such as computer graphics), while others relate to properties of computational problems (such as computational complexity theory). Still others focus on the challenges in implementing computations. For example, programming language theory studies approaches to describing computations, while computer programming applies specific programming languages to solve specific computational problems. A further subfield, human-computer interaction, focuses on the challenges in making computers and computations useful, usable and universally accessible to people.


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