During the 1940s, as newer and more powerful computing machines were developed, the term computer came to refer to the machines rather than their human predecessors. As it became clear that computers could be used for more than just mathematical calculations, the field of computer science broadened to study computation in general. Computer science began to be established as a distinct academic discipline in the 1960s, with the creation of the first computer science departments and degree programs. Since practical computers became available, many applications of computing have become distinct areas of study in their own right.
Although many initially believed it impossible that computers themselves could actually be a scientific field of study, in the late fifties it gradually became accepted among the greater academic population. It is the now well-known IBM brand that formed part of the computer science revolution during this time. IBM (short for International Business Machines) released the IBM 704 and later the IBM 709 computers, which were widely used during the exploration period of such devices. "Still, working with the IBM [computer] was frustrating...if you had misplaced as much as one letter in one instruction, the program would crash, and you would have to start the whole process over again". During the late 1950s, the computer science discipline was very much in its developmental stages, and such issues were commonplace.
Time has seen significant improvements in the usability and effectiveness of computer science technology. Modern society has seen a significant shift from computers being used solely by experts or professionals to a more widespread user base. By the 1990s, computers became accepted as being the norm within everyday life.
Despite its relatively short history as a formal academic discipline, computer science has made a number of fundamental contributions to science and society. These include:Applications within computer science
|P = NP ?|
|Automata theory||Computability theory||Computational complexity theory||Quantum computing theory|
|Mathematical logic||Number theory||Graph theory||Type Theory||Category Theory||Computational geometry|
|Analysis of algorithms||Algorithms||Data structures|
|Bioinformatics||Cognitive Science||Computational chemistry||Computational neuroscience||Computational physics||Numerical algorithms||Symbolic mathematics|
The renowned computer scientist Edsger Dijkstra stated, "Computer science is no more about computers than astronomy is about telescopes." The design and deployment of computers and computer systems is generally considered the province of disciplines other than computer science. For example, the study of computer hardware is usually considered part of computer engineering, while the study of commercial computer systems and their deployment is often called information technology or information systems. Computer science is sometimes criticized as being insufficiently scientific, a view espoused in the statement "Science is to computer science as hydrodynamics is to plumbing", credited to Stan Kelly-Bootle and others. However, there has been much cross-fertilization of ideas between the various computer-related disciplines. Computer science research has also often crossed into other disciplines, such as cognitive science, economics, mathematics, physics (see quantum computing), and linguistics.
Computer science is considered by some to have a much closer relationship with mathematics than many scientific disciplines. Early computer science was strongly influenced by the work of mathematicians such as Kurt Gödel and Alan Turing, and there continues to be a useful interchange of ideas between the two fields in areas such as mathematical logic, category theory, domain theory, and algebra.
The relationship between computer science and software engineering is a contentious issue, which is further muddied by disputes over what the term "software engineering" means, and how computer science is defined. David Parnas, taking a cue from the relationship between other engineering and science disciplines, has claimed that the principal focus of computer science is studying the properties of computation in general, while the principal focus of software engineering is the design of specific computations to achieve practical goals, making the two separate but complementary disciplines.
The academic, political, and funding aspects of computer science tend to depend on whether a department formed with a mathematical emphasis or with an engineering emphasis. Computer science departments with a mathematics emphasis and with a numerical orientation consider alignment computational science. Both types of departments tend to make efforts to bridge the field educationally if not across all research.
Other colleges and universities, as well as secondary schools and vocational programs that teach computer science, emphasize the practice of advanced computer programming rather than the theory of algorithms and computation in their computer science curricula. Such curricula tend to focus on those skills that are important to workers entering the software industry. The practical aspects of computer programming are often referred to as software engineering. However, there is a lot of disagreement over the meaning of the term, and whether or not it is the same thing as programming.