What is computer science?

Computer science is a very large subject with lots of applications. Computer scientists design new software, solve computing problems and develop different ways to use technology.

But, whatever they’re doing, all computer scientists rely on ‘computational thinking’.

What is computational thinking?

Computational thinking involves looking at a problem and working out a way a computer might be able to help you solve it. To do this, you need to understand how a computer processes information.

You probably use computational thinking at school too, but don’t realise it. If you analyse a problem and plan out the solutions, you are using computational thinking.

An illustration of a robot and a scientist

Using computational thinking

A programmer, coder or software engineer is someone who designs and makes computer programs. They might use one type of computer language or many. They use computational thinking all the time.

Programmers are logical thinkers and problem-solvers. They look at problems and try to come up with different ways of solving them.

There is often more than one way to solve a problem and coders try to find the most efficient way. This could mean finding the solution to the problem which requires the least number of steps.

An illustration of a computer programmer at a computer
Programmers use logical thinking and problem-solving strategies when they are writing code.

What is computer technology?

The technologies that computer scientists produce are all around us. Think about all the technology that you encounter in your day:

▪ The tablet you were using to watch a video after breakfast has been programmed.

▪ The traffic lights on the pedestrian crossing you used to get to school have been programmed to help you get safety across the road.

▪ The bus you took to go swimming after school has an engine management system that is programmed.

▪ The CCTV camera that was watching you in the supermarket has been programmed to move automatically and store images.

Future innovations

Technology advances constantly and people are always working on new and inventive ways to use it.

These include hardware innovations like wearable technology such as smart watches, new interface methods and new software such as voice recognition, machine translation and predictive analytics.

A game app running on a mobile phone.
The tablet you were using to play a game after dinner has been programmed.

Being able to think logically and come up with solutions to problems are useful skills in all professions.

Click on the labels below to find out more about some of the jobs that require computational thinking.

An illustration of a boy and girl with speech bubbles and thought bubble showing code.

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