Test Preparation and Resources for Applied Computer Science

Computer Science involves the systematic study of the structure, mechanics, expression, and feasibility of the algorithms underlying the receiving, storing, processing, communicating, and accessing of information. This information may be stored within computer programs. Computer scientists explore the question of how computational processes may be automated and implemented to access valuable data from various sources.

Computer Science was established as an academic discipline in the 1950-1960s. The first Computer Science degree program began at the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory (England) in 1953. However, the first computer science degree in the US did not begin until 1962 at Purdue University. Computer science broadly encompasses a vast number of fields that use and compare algorithms to determine effective solutions to specific problems. Theoretical computer science has been described as the supporting base of the computing field. Theoretical computer science is involved in the mathematical solutions involved in the design, use, maintenance of computer software systems, and understanding information in digital form. Applied Computer Science is using the knowledge of computer science and the understanding of complex computing techniques to find solutions to problems in other disciplines. In addition to using computing in pursuing answers to complex questions, applied computer science requires the combined knowledge of computing and other scientific disciplines to create programs and solutions to the questions often uncovered in the course of research.

Artificial intelligence
As early as 1940, Alan Turning questioned the ability of computers to ‘think’. According to the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence, artificial intelligence is the embodiment of the scientific understanding of human intelligence and underlying though processes within a machine (computer). The branch of applied computer science that is involved with the development of artificial intelligence works to synthesize the processes of decision making, problem solving, adapting to environment and communication challenges that humans possess and replicate it within a computerized system. Artificial intelligence research uses a cross-disciplinary approach within such fields as symbolic logic, applied mathematics, semiotics, electrical engineering, neurophysiology, philosophy, social intelligence, and neurophysiology. Popular science fiction portrays artificial intelligence within robots capable of taking over civilization. The more practical application of artificial intelligence is in the area of software development regarding understanding of finances, economics, and the physical sciences.

Computer Architecture and Engineering
Computer architecture and engineering involves designing hardware and organizing the system or devices to meet specific goals, functions, and capabilities using the latest technologies. Computer architecture and engineering uses technology trends such as power in ICs, scaling of transmitters and receivers, bandwidth over latency, dependability, and cost to design a system to meet specific parameters. Computer architects and engineers work on challenges involved in finding power-efficient ways to improve scaling performance. This may involve circuit technologies, processor designs, execution strategies, storage system organization, micro-architectures, and unique abstract programming.

Computer Graphics and Visualization
Over half of the human brain involves the visual cortex. This equips us to depend on vision to understand much of the information we process in our daily interactions. The most effective way we can communicate and connect with computer-generated information is using the bandwidth connections that are an innate part of our complex visual system. The use of graphics has come a long way from the earliest stick sketches to modern computer visualization. While both graphics and visualization involve transforming data into images, graphics involves rendering information into pixels, shading and so forth while visualization involves mapping constructs that can then be rendered into graphics for various displays. The line between graphics and visualization is often blurred and at times may be used interchangeably.

Computer security and cryptography
Cryptography is the segment of cryptology involved with designing systems for coding and decoding data to ensure computer security. Cryptography relies on a combination of ideas from Numbers Theory and Theoretical Computer Science to design computer security systems. Cryptography allows encoded messages less likely to be read by unauthorized users. Cryptography can be used to design weak or extremely strong cipher text. The strength is determined by how long it takes someone to decode encrypted messages.

Computational Science
Computational Science uses advanced computing technology and systems to examine, understand, and solve a variety of complex problems. Computational science is quickly becoming one of the important fields involved in the advancement of modern society. Using computational science researchers are able to investigate the processes of the human brain, analyze the spread of infectious diseases, support advanced industrial technology, and more.

Information Science
Information science is inherently connected to information technology. As information continues to evolve and expand the definition for information science also changes. The perhaps over-simplified explanation of information science is the study of collection, organization, storage, retrieval, and dispersing of information. Information science involves components of both pure science and applied science. On a deeper level, information science also involves aspects of multiple disciplines such as education, journalism, and communication research.

Software Engineering
Software engineering uses a disciplined and organized approach to the development and delivery of computer software. Computer engineering involves all aspects of software development and production depending upon advanced technology to solve problems. In contrast to computer science, which is focused on theories and fundamentals, software engineering focuses on the development and delivery of practical software solutions. Software engineering is a part of systems engineering that provides applications, controls, and databases within the hardware system.

By Scott Shrum