Computer science has evolved from a combination of different fields. It is related to psychology, in that computer programs are built with the ability to predict human behavior. For example, if you are searching for something on Google, what you are searching for will already be listed for you to simply press rather than having to type it out. Computer science is related to biology, in that a computer is similar to a human brain (Pinker, n.d). A computer operates due to a number of components operating and functioning together, similar to how interconnected neurons in the human brain fire action potentials that relay information to the rest of the body. Furthermore, computer science is strongly related to the field of mathematics.

Applied mathematics is the term used for mathematics being incorporated into another field. Applied mathematics could be applied for predicting weather patterns, calculating potential profits and losses of a business, and even in psychology. For example, applied mathematics is used in psychology to determine whether an experiment has found statistically significant results. Furthermore, applied mathematics is closely incorporated with computer science.

Mathematics is a ginormous part of computer science. From programming, algorithms, logarithms, search results, to data storage; in essence, the majority of computer science consists of simple algebraic binary mathematics. From search engines finding what individuals are looking for by using a ‘matching algorithm’ that indexes (similar to a book) and ranks search queries, to recognizing digital signatures, the book ‘Nine Algorithms that Changed the Future’ (2012), by John MacCormick provides readers with numerous examples of how mathematics and computer science are related. A part of computer science that involves mathematics that is very interesting is public key cryptography. According to the book, Whitfield Diffie and Martin Hellman founded public key cryptography. Public key cryptography is the reason why when you enter your credit card number into a website, only that website can read the number (even though the internet is entirely public). Key cryptography is often how individuals on the dark market communicate amongst each other. Programs like PGP encryption encrypt messages between two individuals so people whom may want to read the information (i.e., the police) are unable to.

‘Nine Algorithms that Changed the Future (2012),’ break down how computers are able to communicate in secret with public key cryptography. The book first uses the example of mixing paint, then puts the analogy into numbers and applies math. According to the textbook, each computer attempts to communicate in private between each other (without having anybody else eavesdropping) by first picking a private number. The computers then multiply their private number with a public number, and that number is put into the public (the middle of the circle).   That number is then taken, and then multiplied by the receiving computer’s own private number, which then results in a shared secret number that can be decoded. This approach implements a one-way action; which means other computers can’t decode the information due to not being able to divide (or figure out the code by inverting the equation). Because it is a one-way action in that other people can’t decipher the code, the private number must be a prime number. Public key cryptography also uses clock arithmetic. Although somewhat confusing, clock arithmetic means that numbers ‘wrap around,’ or start at zero once a certain value has been reached.

In general, most algorithms that are related to computer science can be also related to other fields. For example, the bubble sort algorithm can be used to sort anything from laundry to a list of numbers. However, in computer science bubble sort is often used to quickly create and replicate graphics in games. Statistical algorithms that can be used to predict what people search for on search engines are similar to algorithms that look for analysis of variance in psychological testing. According to Wikipedia, there are a few algorithms that are strictly used for computer science.  The Cantor–Zassenhaus algorithm is an algorithm used in public key cryptology. Although it is very complex, the Cantor–Zassenhaus works by factoring all of the possible inputs from the received private-public key and generate an output that is equivalent the receivers own.

Without mathematics, algorithms that make computers run would not exist. As ‘Nine Algorithms that Changed the Future (2012),’ exhibited, there were algorithms (i..e, indexing) before the field of computer science arose. However, now that it has risen, computer science and applied mathematics fall hand in hand more so compared to almost any other field.

MacCormick, J. (2012). 9 algorithms that changed the future: The ingenious ideas that drive today’s computers. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press


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