Computers are everywhere. They can already do a lot: computers paved the way for things like the internet, climate change simulations, video games, and personalized healthcare. At the same time, we still face many challenges that need better computers. That’s why computer scientists continue to push the limits of what these systems can do.
As a computer scientist, you think of clever new ways to optimize the performance of all sorts of computers. The bachelor’s programme in Computer Science teaches you how to achieve that through software. We prepare you for a career as for example software developer, security specialist, app developer, high-performance computing specialist, and more.
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Where would we be without computers? If you immediately think about how much you use your laptop or your smartphone, you’re right: personal computers play a massive role in our lives. However, there are plenty of other examples. If you checked the weather forecast, hopped on a train, watched tv, or read about a research breakthrough – a computer was involved somewhere.
Most of us rely on computers, but computers themselves rely on computer scientists. After all, someone needs to write the instructions that tell computers what to do. These step-by-step instructions are contained within software: the collection of applications, programs, and scripts that run on a computer.
The bachelor’s programme in Computer Science teaches you the ins and outs of software. Whether it’s a supercomputer used for scientific research, computers in everyday objects like cars, watches and fridges, or your gaming console: you will learn how to make it run as smooth as possible.
There are many different ways to achieve this. Should the software run more efficiently? Does it need to be more secure, more accessible, or easier to use? You can find the tools to answer these questions in the many different fields of Computer Science. Our curriculum is designed to let you gradually discover your interests within this broad field and to develop your employability skills.
All physical components of a computer are part of a category called hardware. This includes keyboards, graphics cards, processors and other tangible components. The opposite of hardware is software: the various kinds of programs that run on computers. Operating systems like Windows and Android, applications like Powerpoint and internet browsers, but also the drivers that control individual hardware components are examples of software.
Did you notice that your phone battery drains faster when you stream a video, than when you are texting? That’s because watching a video demands more from your phone’s hardware. As a result, the hardware components draw more power, and you find yourself rushing to a wall outlet more often than you would like to.
You can solve this problem by buying a phone with a better battery. That’s a hardware solution. But we can also change the software. By making applications that use the phone’s components more efficiently, you get more use out of the same battery. This battery logic also applies to other situations. Have you ever considered a satellite floating in space, which relies on solar-charged batteries to send its data back to Earth? Swapping out the battery after launch is impossible, while software tweaks remain possible. Software is often the cheapest and most flexible way to squeeze extra performance out of existing computer systems.
If you are a gamer, you know that games rarely run on every platform. When you have a PlayStation and your friend owns an Xbox, it is not always possible to play the same game together. Even when a game does release on different platforms, it may perform differently depending on whether you play the PC version or the console version.
This happens because each gaming platform works in a different way. For starters, they contain different kinds of hardware. The systems can also run on different operating systems, which manage both the gaming system and the game you’re trying to play. As you can imagine, it is actually a huge challenge to make a game that runs well under many different conditions. Computer scientists know how to create software – in this case a game – that can deal with this.
All sorts of people use computer software. Small businesses set up their own websites, doctors enter data into medical records, and citizens sign in to online government services. It shouldn’t take a computer expert to do any of this. However, it does take a computer expert to design software that works for both humans and computers.
As a computer scientist, you also consider the human side of the equation. To what extent does a user interact with the software you are creating? How can you make your software as intuitive and user-friendly as possible? Did you create safety nets for things people may get wrong, such as entering data into the wrong field or pushing a different button? The interactions between humans and computers are so interesting, that there is an entire Computer Science field dedicated to it: human-computer interaction.
At the cutting edge of science, you will find experiments of overwhelming size. Scientists are trying to answer questions about themes like life, the universe, and our planet. This places a huge demand on the computers they use for their research. 5000 gigabytes of data pouring in every second? Thousands of scientists that need to access the same systems, but in a safe and secure manner? Such requests are not exceptional – but that does not mean they are possible using current technologies and software. You’ll find computer scientists pushing the boundaries of what computers can do in places like these.
An example is the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Switzerland. One of our assistant professors, Daniel Cámpora, works there. He tripled the efficiency of a computer system that filters incredible amounts of data, freeing up more resources for physics research. You can read more about his research and his style of teaching on this page.