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#1 Xaos  Icon User is offline

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Computer Science Research

Post icon  Posted 26 June 2014 - 08:24 PM

I'm currently employed in an Ecology research lab as a summer internship, and I'm around people doing ecological research all day. It really peaked my interest in Computer Science research, so I've been looking at it a lot. One thing I cannot seem to grasp, however, is what exactly Computer Science research is. Is it just creating new algorithms to solve problems? Figuring out the best UI tactics and the best programming strategies? Is it just Math research, but with computers? Or is it computer research with math? I understand I'm probably being very short-sighted and narrow-minded about this, but I really need someone to clear it up. Also, I've looked for papers, but can't find anything that sparks my interest that is of reasonable length...Maybe this is just because I have a very small knowledge about the theory and don't know the real significance of some of the papers?

Sorry for my ranting, but I hope someone has some answers !

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#2 modi123_1  Icon User is offline

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Re: Computer Science Research

Posted 26 June 2014 - 08:55 PM

Simulations, modeling, dna computing, hardware mechanisms, etc. It doesn't have to be all theory - there can be applications.

There's a whole wide world of "Computational Ecology" out there too.
https://research.mic...cees_2pager.pdf
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#3 Xaos  Icon User is offline

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Re: Computer Science Research

Posted 27 June 2014 - 10:53 AM

I knew about Computational Biology and Ecology, but I started to search and found things like Computational Economics and Computational Physics/Astrophysics..which leads me to believe basically every field has a "Computational" part added on to it. I guess a question about that is...at what point do you stop becoming a "Programmer who creates ecological/economical/physical/etc. models" and become "An ecologist/economist/physicist/etc. creating models"? Or is there really a difference? I guess the only difference would be overlapping, IE doing field research as an ecologist who creates models vs a programmer who programs ecology. Or would it solely depend on, say, the specific lab, or even the specific researcher?

And what point does it stop becoming Computer Science research and modeling to Ecology/Economical/Etc. modeling and research using computers? Or should it be thought of more of a gradient, with a lot of area in between that can count as both?


Also, I repeat the statement from OP about narrow-mindedness.
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#4 modi123_1  Icon User is offline

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Re: Computer Science Research

Posted 27 June 2014 - 11:24 AM

Correct. There is no black and white. Dual majors, folks in one field that dip into the other, etc. I wouldn't get all bent up about it.
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#5 macosxnerd101  Icon User is offline

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Re: Computer Science Research

Posted 27 June 2014 - 04:31 PM

CS Theory is very math-oriented. When you get down to it, that's all CS theory really is. Research in this area can involve designing new algorithms and writing complexity/correctness proofs, describing a problem complexity (is a problem NP-Complete?), or applying other bounds to solutions. I'm doing research this summer in discrete (graph) dynamical systems. I've been playing around with eigenvalues of graphs without much success, but that's also uncharted territory. Some other things I've been playing with have been more successful. Others at this particular lab do a lot of computer simulations and statistical sampling of phase spaces. My work is more theory oriented.

Aside from theory, you can get into systems/low-level, HCI, AI, Numerical Analysis, etc. Systems and low-level research can get into things like designing more efficient circuits, looking at ways to design computer memory, networking, etc. HCI might involve virtual reality type stuff. My school actually has an HCI lab, including a VR setup.

You can, as you have pointed out, get into interdisciplinary research. The lines are usually based on one's background. If you're more of an economist than computer scientist, your research in computational economics will have more of an econ flavor than a CS flavor. People doing interdisciplinary work usually work with others in the field to complement their skillsets. So a CS person might work with an economist to study algorithmic game theory.

Hope this clears it up some! Let me know if I can clarify more.
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#6 ishkabible  Icon User is offline

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Re: Computer Science Research

Posted 01 July 2014 - 07:58 AM

It is an extremely broad field of study and tends to overlap heavily with math (as said CS is math), and philosophy (at least if you study programming languages and logic it does). I'm also involved in research this summer. My research is mostly in programming languages with some overlap in machine learning.

Here is a list

  • Programing Languages: This is a broad and some ill defined field. It deals with the study, creation, implementation, and analysis of programming languages. It has a lot of overlap with formal methods. Logic and proof theory are also studied in programming languages. Lambda calculus is a preferred entry point to most programming languages research. This is my chosen area of research.
  • Formal Methods: This deals with verification and model checking. Ever wonder how people could feel safe writing code for a nuclear facility or a medical device (like a pacemaker)? This is how. You can actually have some very hard proof that your code will never fail with formal methods.
  • Computational Complexity: This deals with analyzing and classifying the computational difficulty of problems. I am blow away by the magnitude of some of the topics in this field. There are people that research complexity classes Far beyond NP (likely the hardest problems you have every encountered are in NP or EXPTIME).
  • Computability: This is a very interesting topic that deals with the notion of "Effective Computability". The grandfather problem here is halting problem. Other topics include mu-recursion, primitive recursion, multiple recursion, truing machines, formal language theory is closely related.
  • Formal language theory and Automata theory: This mostly deals with the study of language and is closly related to computability. Look it up!
  • Algorithims: This is the study and analysis of algorithms. It is closely related to Computational Complexity. Things like Big-Oh and the creation of new algorithms are studied here
  • AI, Machine Learning, and AGI: This deals with getting computers to solve problems that are ill defined where we can really only say "A is the input" and "B is the output". For instance speech recognition the input is set of audio frames with a bunch of volumes for each pitch. The output is text! No one really understands how we convert sound to text but machine learning can still do it! AGI or Artificial General Intelligence is the study of strong AI. This deals with better defined but more general problems.
  • Computational physics: Dogstopper would be a better person to explain this but basically it deals with solving problems in physics with computers. I think Dogstopper once talked about how the place he worked at actually simulated particles flying around for a few hours to determine the radiation caused by different experiments.
  • Computational geometry: Rendering, collision detection, polygon splitting, polyhedron cutting, all of these things often hyper dimensional and much much more. These are a few of a computational geometer's favorite things
  • Scientific and Numerical Computing: This is a more broad field of than Computational physics and is generally concerned with good algorithms for doing specific computations that pop in different scientific and mathematical fields. physics is a major driving forces here
  • Distributed Systems and Big Data: Dealing with super computers and other highly parallel systems is the topic here. Ever wondered how Google does what they do? This is the research area. This is closely related to machine learning.
  • I could keep going on and on. Emended Systems, Operating Systems, Cryptography(A very math oriented field), software engineering, the list is very large.


Hope this helps!

This post has been edited by ishkabible: 01 July 2014 - 08:02 AM

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#7 Xaos  Icon User is offline

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Re: Computer Science Research

Posted 01 July 2014 - 08:06 AM

That was a super helpful and very in-depth list. Gonna do some research on alot of those when I get home today !
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