Theoretical Computer Science

What Does Theoretical Computer Science Mean?

Theoretical computer science is a term generally used to refer to parts of the computer science world that are less “hands-on” or demonstrable and more theoretical in nature. IT professionals who discuss theoretical computer science are often talking about some of the more mathematical and esoteric ideas about computing, and some of the more theoretical applications of technologies like algorithms, data structures and cryptography.


Techopedia Explains Theoretical Computer Science

One essential part of theoretical computer science is the theory of computation, which handles the use of computational models, for example, algorithms.

A lot of the practical discussion around theoretical computer science contrasts the theoretical side of computer science to the “application” or “programming” side. Professionals ask about whether they should focus on either direct code application or theoretical computer science skills and research. Some ask about whether studying one “side” of computer science makes someone better at the other areas as well. There is debate about the general value of theoretical computer science for some types of job roles. Broadly, theoretical computer science is used to describe that wide spectrum of ideas that are less directly applicable to a particular working programming project.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.