Difference Between Software Engineering and Computer Science

Software Engineering vs Computer Science

In modern society, computers have become an integral and unavoidable part. However, we focus less on the inner workings of these familiar things. Computer science is the theoretical foundation of the computer systems, whereas software engineering is an application of those principles into problems to develop a software solution.

Computer Science

Computer science is the basic science of computing hardware and software. It provides insight into the mechanism of both software and hardware components and theoretical foundations of computation for implementation and application in computer systems.

Computer science consists of many major sub disciplines. Computational theory, Information and coding theory, algorithms and data structure, and programming language theory belongs to the theoretical computer science. Applied computer science sub-disciplines are artificial intelligence, computer architecture and engineering, computer graphics and visualization, cryptography and computer security, computer networks, Concurrent, parallel and distributed systems, Databases and information retrieval, and software engineering.

Many of these sub disciplines are based on mathematical theories. Some application aspects are connected to mechatronics and other applied sciences.

Also, these sub disciplines extend into minor study areas. For example, the Computational theory contains study areas such as Automata theory, Computability theory, Complexity theory, Cryptography, and Quantum computing theory.

Software Engineering

Software engineering can be considered as one of the major sub disciplines of applied computer science. It focuses on building effective software systems using a rigorous engineering approach. It can be described as a systematic, disciplined, quantifiable approach to the design, development, operation, and maintenance of software, and the study of these approaches. There is no one accepted definition of software engineering, but an interpretation of its purpose.

Fritz Bauer defined software engineering as “The establishment and use of sound engineering principles in order to obtain economically developed software that is reliable and works efficiently on real machines”.

Software is not physical; it is logical entities working within a computer system. Therefore, it has to be designed for optimal performance in both hardware and operations aspects. For obtaining these goals, software engineers use development models. These models incorporate main steps of software development such as designing, coding, troubleshooting, and maintenance into a cohesive framework which allows systematic progress of the software through its life cycle.

What is the difference between Software Engineering and Computer Science?

• Computer science focuses on the theoretical aspects of the computing, both in software and hardware.

• Software engineering focuses on development of software systematically. Coding or the programming is a key component of software engineering.

• Software engineering can be seen as an application of the computational theory (for example, an algorithm`s efficiency can be measured using complexity, which is described in computer science theory, but it’s application is within the domain of software engineering where the most suitable algorithm is selected by means of the complexity).