Friday, February 27, 2009
I am a computer scientist by profession. However, one thing that surprises me is the fact that many people (only here in Malawi?) fail to distinguish computer science from the so called "information technology". So I googled on this and following are some of the results:
Computer Science, Computing, Computer Studies, ICT and Information Technology – are they all the same thing?
There is unfortunately a lot of confusion over these terms in the general population and in schools, and people who should know better use them as if they were interchangeable. Computer Science is the study of information and computation. The other terms are more vocational and mostly describe training courses in how to use particular pieces of software. Think of it this way: someone with an ICT qualification will know how to use a program like Word. Someone with a Computer Science qualification will know how to create a program like Word, and will also know how to make it easier to use, how to make it work on a variety of machines, how to make it easy to add additional functionality, how to fix bugs in it, how to make it communicate with other pieces of hardware or software, how to market it and how to deal with any legal or copyright problems with it. They will understand the theoretical basis underlying the program. They will also know how to do a million other things besides. Not just now, but throughout their working career.
Source: University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory
From a very broad perspective, Computer Science is the study of the principles of computing. It helps you better understand how computers solve problems, the kinds of problems that a computer can solve and how one would present a problem to a computer. Abstract ideas that rely on fundamental mathematical theories are at the heart of Computer Science. Information Technology is the study of technology that drives Information Systems for businesses. Understanding how technology/tools can best meet the Information management needs of an organization is at the heart of IT. Familiarity with such tools is an essential for a successful IT professional. The interesting relation between the 2 fields lies in the fact that more often than not, it is Computer Scientists that design and develop these tools that an IT professional uses. Personally, I think that an adaptable Computer Scientist should not find it difficult to migrate to the field of IT (if he/she chooses to do so) by learning more about the technology that is predominately used at his/her organization. An IT professional on the other hand, will have to go through mathematics/CS training in order to be a good computer scientist. In a nutshell, Computer Science is about understanding generic concepts,whereas IT is about knowing more facts.
For more on what computer science is, check on Wikipedia