Contrary to what you may think, these two subjects are about as different as Latin is to linear algebra.
What Is Computer Science?
It’s math. As a computer science major myself, I can tell you first hand that computer science involves writing very little code — especially at the higher levels. If I had to arbitrarily assign a percentage to “math v. programming”, I would say that computer science is at least 80% math and at most 20% programming.
In computer science you learn about sorting algorithms, finite state machines, turing machines, parsers, lexers, tokenizers, lambda calculus, monads, monoids, functors, lists, maps, maybes, lenses, and futures, to name a few.
It is very common for computer science courses to have a mathematics prerequisite. Algorithms and data structures are heavily reliant on a background in math.
Also contrary to popular opinion, computer science majors are not necessarily good programmers. Granted, they show a higher aptitude towards becoming a good programmer, but they rarely know how to code anything useful coming out of college with a computer science degree.
What Is Computer Programming?
It’s somewhere between a foreign language and formal logic. A word you will hear a lot in programming is “syntax”, which is how a particular programming language structures its logic. This might sound familiar because it’s the same word — not coincidentally — that foreign language classes use to describe the structure of sentences.
Computer programming does not require a highly mathematical background, and much like a foreign language, the only way to become a better programmer is to practice. Most people who start programming are surprised to discover how easy it is to learn and how little math is involved. As a friend once described it to me, “Once it stops looking like The Matrix, it’s actually pretty easy.” In my experience, this change of perception usually takes less than a month.
Above: What Is Quantum Computing? How Quantum Computing Will Change The World.
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