Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Major Fields in Computing

You may have heard terms like “computer engineering,” “computer science,” “information systems,” and “information technology” and wondered if they were synonymous. They are not, but they’re related through the levels of abstraction. You need to understand these terms too.

Computer engineering focuses on the bottom levels of abstraction: hardware design and use. It is an extension of electrical engineering, covering the design and analysis of computer hardware. In fact, in a university, computer engineering is most often taught in the school of engineering. While a computer engineer understands programming, most of his or her focus is on hardware, not software.

Computer science, the subject of this book, is the systematic study of computing processes. It is concerned with the middle levels of abstraction, from hardware use to software use. Computer scientists work primarily in the development of software, either at the practical level (improving the speed at which a web page performs a search) or the theoretical (exploring the limits of computers’ recognition of human speech). The hope is that every subject that begins as theoretical ends as practical. To better understand software design and development, the computer scientist must understand how a computer works, even if he or she can’t create one, and thus is also an experienced computer user. In a university, computer science is most often taught in the school of science and mathematics.

Covering the top levels of abstraction is information systems, which is the study of how computing technology is used in business. Someone schooled in information systems has knowledge of business operations and programming, but is more interested in solving a business problem with existing solutions than in trying to invent novel solutions. In a university, information systems may be taught in the same department as computer science or it may be taught in the business school.

Finally, information technology is a broad term that does not refer to a particular field but instead covers all the levels of abstraction. While often restricted to mean the use of technology in business (similar to information systems), in general, the term encompasses the design, development, and implementation of computer hardware and software.

Source of Information :  Broadway-Computer Science Made Simple 2010
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