Computer Science vs. Information Studies vs. Information Systems (With a Little Informatics)
There are possibly a half-dozen major, intertwining domains in the IT field, and sometimes a little deciphering is necessary when assessing the education possibilities. When it comes to assessing how things stack up, a little cheat-sheet can be handy.
Computers are still calculators. Even the self-driving Google Car still functions on a mathematical basis. Behind the artificial intelligence that allows Google's vehicle to navigate in traffic is a complicated system of calculations. This system was developed by the best and brightest of the info-tech sector. Whether you are getting ready to become the next Pierre Omidyar or you are hiring your next Mad Scientist, you need to know the difference between the numerous IT academic programs that exist. This requires a quick trip through the information science domains, starting with the fore-father: computer science.
Computer science is the grand-pappy of the Information Revolution. Heavy in math and theory, computer scientists solidly learn the foundation of computer methods. Comp-sci covers everything: networking, programming, theory, practice. Computer science is the font, and good students should be able to quickly learn most any technical task. Bad CS students, on the other hand, know just enough to forge havoc. Computer science is by far the most difficult field, and probably has produced more liberal arts majors than any other scientific field besides medicine.
Information systems has a dual identity. One path of IS deals with technical management. The other part of the IS field deals with expert systems, artificial intelligence, databases, informatics, and all those enterprise-level developments that you hear about. Certain schools have even more specialized topics, and many universities form partnerships with corporate R&D departments. Information systems comes in as a strong contender, and is a highly competitive program for IT positions after graduation.
Software engineering deals both with software development, system engineering, and project management. At the core level, software engineering teaches advanced methods to handle software application development. Kind of like computer science on steroids, this is much more an engineering field than the other, lighter information technology domains.Continued on the next page