Computer Science Is a Terrible Name

Ronald Farrer
2 min readApr 3, 2023
Photo by Dan Cristian Pădureț on Unsplash

Computer Science, as we know it today, has become an essential field in modern society. From the smallest personal devices to the largest supercomputers, computers have revolutionized the way we live and work. However, the term “Computer Science” is arguably a misnomer. The field is not just about computers, but about the science of computation. Hence, it should have been named Computational Science.

The term “computer” implies that the field is solely focused on the study of computers themselves. However, Computer Science encompasses a wide range of topics such as algorithms, language, programming languages, logic, philosophy, artificial intelligence and machine learning, and on and on. These subjects are all related to the study of computation, which involves the processing of information using mathematical and logical operations. The focus is not on the computer itself but on the processes and algorithms used to manipulate data. I would go so far as to say that computers are to computer scientists what telescopes are to astronomers.

The name Computational Science more accurately reflects the field’s focus on the science of computation. It emphasizes the fact that Computer Science is not just about programming and hardware, but about understanding and optimizing algorithms and computational processes. This more accurately describes the work done by computer scientists in a variety of fields, including artificial intelligence, cryptography, data analysis, and more.

Furthermore, the term “computational” is broader and more inclusive than “computer.” It encompasses not only traditional computing technologies but also newer ones like quantum computing and bioinformatics. These fields are not necessarily focused on the use of computers in the traditional sense, but rather on the use of computational methods to solve problems. If one wants to study computers and networks, one needs to look no further than Information Technology (IT.)

By calling the field Computational Science, we can also more accurately reflect the interdisciplinary nature of the field. Computer Science is not just about computer hardware and software but is a multidisciplinary field that draws on mathematics, engineering, physics, and other sciences. The term “computational” more accurately reflects the collaborative nature of the field and highlights the importance of cross-disciplinary research in advancing the science of computation.

In conclusion, renaming Computer Science as Computational Science would be more appropriate and more accurately reflect the nature of the field. It would also help to broaden the perception of the field and emphasize the importance of the science of computation, rather than just the study of computers themselves.

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