The Tech Homeschooler
The academic focus of this month’s magazine is computer science. I think that’s a great idea, but there is a lot of con-
fusion about exactly what computer sci-
ence is, how it fits in to other computing
disciplines, how to study it, and what
kinds of jobs are available.
What Is Computer Science?
First we have to deal with the unfor-
tunate name. If we’re going to call
this discipline “computer science,” we
should really rename biology “micro-
scope science,” and astronomy should
be “telescope science.” Astronomers and
biologists certainly are good at using
their tools, and they often invent newer,
more powerful tools, but astronomers
don’t really look at telescopes; they look
through them. To an astronomer, a tele-
scope is a wonderful tool, but it is not
the real focus of study. Astronomers use
telescopes to understand the nature of
the universe. They build telescopes to
amplify the natural process of vision to
see things and to see new things. Often
what they see is a total mystery.
Computer scientists . . . .
don’t study computers.
We study with
with microscopes. While we might in-
vent new kinds of computers, it’s not re-
ally the computer itself that’s interesting.
We don’t study computers. We study with
computers. The particular part of the
universe we’re interested in is the process
of solving problems. Like a biologist uses
a microscope to see the very small and
the astronomer uses the telescope to see
the very large, computer scientists look at
processes. Sure, we use computers (as do
nearly all scientists), but computer sci-
ence isn’t really about computers or even