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Also known as computation science or computing science, computer science refers to the study of processes that interact with data in the form of programs. A computer scientist studies the practice of designing software systems.

Computer science is not the study of computers, and it's not about learning to use the various computer applications. Rather, computer science deals with the theory of computation and the practice of software design. As a science, computer science is dynamic rather than static, in that it is forever changing. For example, the development of a digital application, such as a word processing program, is an aspect of computer science, but learning to use a word processing program is not. The development of a new computer graphics game involves computer science, but learning to master the game once it has been developed does not.

As a scientific discipline, computer science began even before the invention of the digital computer. In fact, the theories that led to the design and eventual construction of the computer involved the use of computer science.

Gottfried Leibniz designed a digital mechanical calculator, known as the Stepped Reckoner, in the 1670s. He might be considered the first computer scientist as, in his creation, he documented the binary number system. In the 1820s and 1830s, Charles Babbage designed the Difference Engine, which led to the first programmable mechanical calculator, the Analytical Engine, demonstrating many of the features of today's computers. Other early computer scientists included Thomas de Colmar, Ada Lovelace, Herman Hollerith, and Howard Aiken.

However, those who first thought of the concept of a programming language, and those who designed and developed the various operating systems that have been used throughout the years, as well as those who have designed the computer applications and graphics programs that have become so much a part of our lives today, these folks were also computer scientists.

As a scientific discipline, computer science covers a wide range of topics, from the study of algorithms, the limits of computation, and the practical aspects of implementing computing systems in hardware and software, data structures, programming methodology, and languages, and the elements of computer elements and architecture.

The Computing Sciences Accreditation Board also identifies the fields of artificial intelligence, computer graphics, computer networking and communication, database systems, distributed computation, human-computer interaction, numerical and symbolic computation, operating systems, parallel computation, and software engineering as being elements of computer science.

Many of these elements are categorized separately here, for the purpose of categorization. Unless there a more specific category has been created for these elements, topics related to computer science and the elements of computer science are the focus of this category.



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