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New Book Answers the Question `What is Computer Science?'

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03 January 2014

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Computer Science is a diverse subject: it covers topics that range from the design of computer hardware through to programming that hardware so it can do useful things, and encompasses applications in fields such as Science, Engineering and the Arts. As a result, a modern Computer Science degree will often see students study topics that could be described as applied Mathematics (e.g., cryptography), applied Physics (e.g., quantum computing), Psychology (e.g., human-computer interaction), Philosophy (e.g., artificial intelligence), Biology (e.g., bio-informatics) and Linguistics (e.g., speech synthesis); such a list could go on and on. 

On one hand, this diversity means trying to capture what Computer Science is can be quite hard and the subject can be misunderstood as a result. A prime example is that ICT, a subject often taught in schools, can give a false impression of what Computer Science would be about at University: if ICT gives the impression that a Computer Science degree would be about using a word processor for example, the reality is it relates more closely to creating the word processor itself.

A new book, authored by Bristol academics Dr Dan Page and Prof. Nigel Smart, addresses this issue by examining computer science through the lens of topics in information security. The book is self contained with all references being made to online resources such as Wikipedia; to enable the reader to quickly follow up on topics which they find interesting. The book is available from the publisher in a convenient form factor (i.e. book form). However, a free online version with additional material is also available from our web site.