Fundamentals of Computer Science; Understanding the Jargon

Computer Science is the study of computers, computational systems and algorithmic processes (the processes that make them function). It relies on Mathematics and Engineering principles such as statistics and electronic circuit design. 

You have likely heard all these words before but as not everyone goes on to study Computer Science at University here’s a short guide:

A computer consists of 4 major components: input, output, central processing unit (CPU) and memory. An input is anything you will “add” into the computer which can send data to another device (mouse, keyboard, webcam) while the output displays the interpreted signals from the input and can receive data from another device (projector, monitor, speakers). The CPU acts as the “physical heart of the computer system” and ensures that all the inputs and outputs are sent to the appropriate places. Computer memory is where all the data, programs (set of instructions) are stored. Such information relies on the binary code (sequences of 0s and 1s) where each digit is stored to represent either a 0 or 1 in the computer’s system. 

The above components are hardware or physical pieces while the collection of codes or programs (not tangible) installed on the computer’s hard drive are called software. Software are either applications (used by you to perform a specific function including Skype, Microsoft Word, Google Chrome) or operating systems (Windows, Mac, Linux). 

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Information can also be shared between devices through data networks through:

  •  LAN (local area network) refers to a group of computers sharing a common link for example multiple computers in one company
  •  WAN (wide area network) connect multiple computers spread out across a geographical area
  •  VPN (virtual private network) facilitates the connectivity and security between WAN sites. It explains how two computers are able to exchange and share information through the internet. 

Algorithms are a set of instructions given to a computer to execute a particular task often used for problem-solving. Successful algorithm development requires a solid understanding of all the computational processes and components. 

The major subdomains of Computer Science include computer architecture (understanding and optimising), programming languages (such as Java, C++), software development. Computer Scientists also create algorithms for modelling scientific data, visualizing graphics and analysing human-computer interactions. Most careers in Computer Science require a Bachelor (BSc) and Master of Science (MSc) so bear this in mind when choosing your course type and duration.