Computer science is the study of algorithms or formalized processes. The best known form of algorithm is the computer program. Computer science is, however, much more than just writing programs for computers; computer engineering and computer science bring together the empirical aspects of science, the developmental aspects of engineering, and the analytical aspects of mathematics. Computer engineering places a heavier emphasis on development, while computer science places more emphasis on analysis.

The computer science student studies not only computers and how to write programs for them, but also the mathematical foundations for, and the analysis of, algorithms; and the implications of new methods of computation. The computer scientist must also learn to understand the needs of the user as well as those of the machine, and to understand the impact that computation will have upon the "outside world."