While all computer scientists can code — and some of them with awe-inspiring elegance and efficiency — the fact is that not all people who can code are computer scientists. This is because, contrary to what some individuals outside of the IT world believe, computer science is not an endless exercise in coding. Rather, it is a fusion of mathematics, engineering, physics, statistical modeling and analysis, electronic circuit design, algorithms, information structures, and “outside-the-box” creativity that aims to both uncover and extend the possibilities of computational thinking. Although coding is a part of the puzzle; but it is certainly not the only or primary piece.
Bhavana Chamoli, who is currently a developer, investment research and trading at MIO Partners in New York, takes a deeper dive into computer science.
The basis of what we now know as computer science has its roots in the first half of the 20th century and really began to emerge as a distinct scientific discipline in the 1960s, when the first rudimentary operating systems began to emerge, says Bhavana Chamoli. However, it wasn’t until the 70s and 80s when the costs of key components such as cathode-ray tubes and RAM began to fall that computer science became a dominant commercial force and a critical way for companies to enhance competitive advantage and drive profitability. Companies such as IBM, Xerox, Bell Labs, and many others invested billions of dollars and hired tens of thousands of graduates, as did governments around the world.
Naturally, computer science — just like computing technology — has come a long way in the last several decades, and one of the most important evolutions has been the exponential growth in academic programs.
Long Term Growth
Computer science is one of the most sought after degrees in the U.S. and around the world, comments Bhavana Chamoli. Not only are new graduates in high demand from employers across all sectors and industries, but compensation can be quite lucrative. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for computer and information research scientists is currently around $118,000 per year and for computer network architects it’s just under $110,000 per year. There is also tremendous opportunity for long-term growth and those who combine strong computer science knowledge with entrepreneurial and managerial competence are very well positioned to start their own consultancy or business.
Final Thoughts from Bhavana Chamoli
As for the ongoing debate about whether computer science is indeed a legitimate science even though it deals with artificial rather than natural world, experts such have a simple answer: yes it is and it always has been and will be.
Computer science checks all of the boxes required to establish it as a science and not just as a discipline, says Bhavana Chamoli. It is essentially concerned with studying empirical properties and leverages the scientific method as a lens of inquiry to characterize, hypothesize, predict, experiment, and test. The fact that computer science explores man-made entities like algorithms and information systems instead of those in the natural world like plants or cells does not change the fundamental paradigm.