Computer scientist
Occupation type
CompetenciesComputer science and other formal sciences (e.g. mathematics, logic, statistics, information theory, systems science)
Education required
Doctoral degree, master's degree, bachelor's degree
Fields of
private corporations,
financial industry,
government, military
Related jobs
Mathematician, logician

A computer scientist is a scholar who specializes in the academic study of computer science.[1]

Computer scientists typically work on the theoretical side of computation. Although computer scientists can also focus their work and research on specific areas (such as algorithm and data structure development and design, software engineering, information theory, database theory, theoretical computer science, numerical analysis, programming language theory, compiler, computer graphics, computer vision, robotics, computer architecture, operating system), their foundation is the theoretical study of computing from which these other fields derive.[2]

A primary goal of computer scientists is to develop or validate models, often mathematical, to describe the properties of computational systems (processors, programs, computers interacting with people, computers interacting with other computers, etc.) with an overall objective of discovering designs that yield useful benefits (faster, smaller, cheaper, more precise, etc.).


Most computer scientists are required to possess a PhD, M.S., Bachelor's degree in computer science, or other similar fields like Information and Computer Science (CIS), or a closely related discipline such as mathematics[2] or physics.[3]

Areas of specialization


Computer scientists are often hired by software publishing firms, scientific research and development organizations where they develop the theories that allow new technologies to be developed. Computer scientists are also employed by educational institutions such as universities.

Computer scientists can follow more practical applications of their knowledge, doing things such as software engineering. They can also be found in the field of information technology consulting, and may be seen as a type of mathematician, given how much of the field depends on mathematics.[4] Computer scientists employed in industry may eventually advance into managerial or project leadership positions.[5]

Employment prospects for computer scientists are said to be excellent. Such prospects seem to be attributed, in part, to very rapid growth in computer systems design and related services industry, and the software publishing industry, which are projected to be among the fastest growing industries in the U.S. economy.[2]

Notable Computer Scientists and Programmers

Portrait of Charles Babbage

It is relevant to keep in mind that the role of a programmer is related to that of a computer scientist but it is not identical. Programmer generally refers to individuals who use programming languages to implement algorithms and solve specific problems. So, one can think of programmers as a subset of computer scientists.

Some regard that Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz is the first computer scientist [6] because of his invention of Stepped reckoner in 1694, a digital non-programmable mechanical calculator. Though this was not the first mechanical calculator, his contributions on binary numbers made him to be considered as the first computer scientist. [7] But due to the definition of computer such that “a programmable usually electronic device that can store, retrieve, and process data”,[8] Charles Babbage who is the inventor the first programmable machine, the Analytical Engine, is considered as the first computer scientist and the father of computer science. [9] [10] Designed in 1837, the Analytical Engine was basically a mechanical calculator programmable through punched cards. But, owing to various challenges like funding issues, technological limitations, and political factors, the creation of the machine wasn’t completed before Babbage’s death. [11]

Being interested in the Analytical Engine, Ada Lovelace realized that this machine has broader functionality than calculator and could perform an extensive sequence of mathematical operations. [12] In 1843, she constructed a set of instructions to calculate Bernoulli numbers using punched cards. These sequences of instructions were counted as the first computer program by some which made Ada Lovelace the first computer programmer. [13] Because the Analytical Engine wasn’t completed during that time, she never had found the opportunity to execute the program on the engine. But her algorithm laid the groundwork for future programming concepts. [14] The incomplete project of Babbage was then actualized by the German computer scientist Konrad Zuse with his development of the world's first working programmable digital computer called Z3 in 1940. Due to his achievements, Zuse is considered as the father of the modern computer. [15]

Alan Turing was another computer scientist who is regarded as the father of computer science and artificial intelligence. [16] He introduced the concept of the Turing Machine, in 1936, that lays the foundation of modern computers. This conceptual framework helped to comprehend the limitations of computers [17] in terms of deciding whether a computer can solve a specific problem or not. His contributions in decoding Nazi’s Enigma codes contributed to shortening World War 2 and save countless lives. [18] Similarly in the 20th century, Tim Berners-Lee changed the world by inventing the World Wide Web. He created the first web browser and web server; he paved the roads of the protocols that govern the web.

See also


  1. ^ Orsucci, Franco F.; Sala, Nicoletta (2008). Reflexing Interfaces: The Complex Coevolution of Information Technology Ecosystems, Information Science Reference. p. 335. ISBN 978-1599046273.
  2. ^ a b c "Computer and Information Research Scientists". U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 29 March 2012. Archived from the original on 2 April 2012. Retrieved 9 September 2019.
  3. ^ "Fields of Employment for Physics Bachelors in the Private Sector, tuty of 2010 & 2012 Combined". American Physical Society. Archived from the original on 17 October 2011. Retrieved 9 September 2019.
  4. ^ "Computing Disciplines & Majors" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 6 September 2019. Retrieved 9 September 2019.
  5. ^ Perry, Benjamin Beau. "What is a computer scientist?". The University of Newcastle. Archived from the original on 21 August 2016. Retrieved 9 September 2019.
  6. ^ "Leibniz, Father of Computer Science". IDSIA. Retrieved 22 February 2024.
  7. ^ "History of the Computer". University of Montana. Retrieved 22 February 2024.
  8. ^ "Definition of COMPUTER". Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 22 February 2024.
  9. ^ "Charles Babbage: The Father of the Computer". History of Data Science. Retrieved 22 February 2024.
  10. ^ "Charles Babbage". Computer History Museum. Retrieved 22 February 2024.
  11. ^ "Charles Babbage - The Father of the Computer". Vaia. Retrieved 22 February 2024.
  12. ^ "Ada Lovelace: The First Computer Programmer". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 22 February 2024.
  13. ^ "Ada Lovelace: The First Computer Programmer". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 22 February 2024.
  14. ^ "Ada Lovelace: The First Computer Programmer". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 22 February 2024.
  15. ^ "Z like Zuse: German inventor of the computer". Monsters and Critics. Archived from the original on 22 May 2013. Retrieved 22 February 2024.
  16. ^ "Alan Turing". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 22 February 2024.
  17. ^ "Turing's Theory of Computation". Princeton University. Retrieved 22 February 2024.
  18. ^ "Alan Turing's lost letters found in filing cabinet". BBC News. Retrieved 22 February 2024.