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Discussion on: Computer Science vs Software Engineering

jacoby profile image
Dave Jacoby

I think I heard it the other way, that Computer Science abstracts away the hardware and leaves you with the algorithmic principles that will stay constant as the Electrical Engineers give you faster and faster computers. In it's heart, CS is closer to math than engineering.

Software Engineering, OTOH, is more about the processes and structures to create software. It's Industrial Engineering by another name.

I agree, however, that Computer Science, like any discipline that has to add science to the name, isn't a science.

leob profile image
leob • Edited

That's true, you are right, Computer Science for all intents and purposes is a branch of mathematics. A branch of applied mathematics that's what it is, it studies the mathematical underpinnings of computer programming and algorithms.

So it isn't "science", unless you would call mathematics science. But mathematics isn't "science" in my definition ... science is the empirical study if the natural world (so physics/geology/astronomy, chemistry and biology) - mathematics (and by extension Computer "Science", and you could argue Philosophy and Logic too) are abstract "tools" and methodologies which support 'science'.

So yes that's definitely how I would define it - Computer Science is a branch of mathematics. It isn't engineering nor is it "science". "Software engineering" OTOH is arguably 'engineering' indeed, a form of industrial engineering, using "Computer Science" as one of its foundations.


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brandinchiu profile image
Brandin Chiu

The roots of "computer science" are in the empirical study to see if problems could be used with computers.

If I remember correctly, these were usually mathematic problems. The "science" was the exploration before complex computing was really a thing. We didn't know for sure if computers and logical processors could do the things we wanted them to do.

That's where the experimentation component comes from.

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