July 15, 2021

Beginner’s Guide: What is Computer Science?


  1. What is Computer Science?
  2. What is a computer?
  3. What is a program?
  4. What is a programming language?
  5. How to think like a programmer?
  6. What next?

Computer Science has transformed the world we live in, and offers us all kinds of technological possibilities for the future. According to the Australian Government Labour Market Portal (2019), it is projected that technology workers in Australia alone will grow two times faster than any other occupation, that is a staggering 809,000 tech workers needed by 2024. Of this, approximately 300,000 will require some knowledge and skills in Computer Science.

Whether you are looking to start your career in Computer Science or up-skilling/ refreshing your knowledge, you probably have a lot of questions. Learning Computer Science doesn’t need to be hard. This article will take you through the basics of how a computer works and teach you how to think like a programmer. If you are an absolute beginner with little to zero knowledge or experience, don’t fret - you’re in the right place!

What is Computer Science?

Computer Science is the study of computers and computational systems. Computer scientists deal mostly with software and software systems, including the theory, design, development and application. 

If you have an interest in problem solving, you’re in for a real treat. As one of the most important aspects of Computer Science, it is an essential skill to succeed. Learners are able to study the design, development and analysis of software and hardware used to solve problems in a variety of contexts, including business, social, environmental, scientific and the like.

What is a computer?

By definition, a computer is an electronic device that can manipulate information, or data. It has the capability to store, retrieve and process information, based on the instructions given by the program. There are three major parts of the computer, the Central Processing Unit (CPU), Memory and the Input/Output Devices.

You can probably think of some devices that you have in your household. Put simply, what device are you currently using to read this article?

What is a program?

A program is a sequence of instructions, whether it is one or a dozen, that we write to perform a task with a computer. Think of this as the “brains” behind the computer, without programmers writing instructions, the computer is unable to perform on its own.

What is a programming language?

A programming language is used by the programmer to create a series of symbols that act as a “bridge” that allows us humans to communicate our thoughts into instructions that computers can understand. 

Given that the computer processes data and instructions using machine code called binary, it is difficult for ordinary people, like you and I, to understand. Therefore the programming language comes into play to allow programmers to write programs. You’ve probably heard terms like Java or Python where programmers write their instructions and the computer converts the code to be executed in the CPU.

How to think like a programmer?

You’ve probably heard of the saying “think like a programmer”. This simply means to view challenges in different angles and iterating constantly until you find a solution.

This often takes time to learn and adapt. It’s natural for us humans to overlook steps or repeat ourselves. Programming is a unique style of solving problems, and regardless if you’re an absolute beginner or even a senior level programmer, thinking like a programmer is an ongoing, learning experience.

What next?

Well done! You’ve just taken the first steps to uncover the exciting world of computer science. This article takes a light approach in covering the basics.

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