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As a computer scientist, there’s nothing that annoys me more than when my friends ask me for help setting up their wireless internet, or when my mom calls and asks why her laptop keeps freezing. I try to tell them that I’m not studying computer repairs or computer usage, I’m studying computer science.

But that doesn’t help, because nobody seems to know exactly what the term “computer science” means. When I urge my friends to take a computer science course, they shrug me off with comments like “I’m no good with computers” or “I don’t do science.” Assuming my friends aren’t just unadventurous, there must be some big misconceptions outside of the computer science community about what computer science is all about.

Computer scientists are concerned
We can only analyze procedures within the realm of abstraction in which we have created them. Luckily, this type of reasoning is exactly why we have mathematical logic. Mathematicians, too, are concerned with the idea of truth in the abstract. Instead of running experiments, computer scientists define problems and procedures mathematically, and then analyze them using logic. This is the fundamental reason why computer science is not a science.

Given that the correctness of procedures is proved using mathematical logic, it might seem like computer science is really just a branch of mathematics, which it is, in some sense. In fact, much of the “math” we learn in school is actually computation.

Consider, for example, the problem of dividing two numbers. When presented with this problem, a mathematician might derive the properties of division, such as when there will be a remainder. A computer scientist, in contrast, would focus on figuring out how to perform the