Getting Started Guide: Chapter 2

Learning Computer Science Basics

What is Computer Science?

Computer Science is basically about solving problems. It’s about understanding what computers can do for you, whereas programming itself is the practice of making computers do those things.

Do you like solving problems? If that’s the case, Computer Science might just be your thing.

Learning CS and coding will require skills in logical thinking and solving problems in various ways. Of course, you will also need quite a bit of patience, too, for those days when things don’t go the way you planned.

Luckily, there are plenty of great resources available for learning computer science basics online. I’ll be sharing my favourite ones with you in this chapter.

First, let’s take a look at some reasons for learning CS to begin with.

Why learn Computer Science for coding?

What are CS skills good for with coding then? If you’re just writing code for computer programs, why do you need to know what’s happening under the hood inside the computer?

Anyone without much knowledge in Computer Science will face quite a challenge when they start learning coding: they have to understand the terminology and dynamics around coding, which are closely related to the fundamentals of CS.

As I mentioned before, Computer Science is about understanding what computers can do for you and how they work. Knowing how your code actually works and is executed helps you write better, faster, and more efficient programs in the future.

Of course, when you’re just starting out by writing simple, one-file programs, worrying about writing perfectly efficient code is not your number one priority. However, the sooner you start being more aware of it, the easier it will be to learn the fundamentals of how to write “good” code.

“Learning coding without knowing much about CS is like learning how to drive but not knowing what happens when you turn the steering wheel.”

Since the more technical terms can sometimes become a bit overwhelming for a coding beginner, I’ve put together this chapter to get you started.

Understanding CS will help you reach your goals faster

Early on, when you first start learning coding, you’ll be bombarded with technical terminology you’re not necessarily familiar with. Needless to say, this will inevitably slow down your learning process. You’ll be looking for answers and explanations online quite frequently.

And that’s perfectly fine, we’ve all been there!

However, the key to speeding up your learning is to focus on learning the fundamentals behind those technicalities first. Almost all of them are somehow related to Computer Science.

Therefore, based on my experience, it’s a good idea to focus on learning the basics of Computer Science right away when you start learning programming.

Why not learn Computer Science while you learn coding?

Of course, everyone has a different way of learning. You might prefer to learn your Computer Science basics while coding at the same time. And you’re perfectly free to do so.

My approach is simply a tip that’s worked for me and for many others I’ve managed to help learn coding. And since I’m here to help you out, it’s only fair to share my experience with you.

Surely, you will learn the fundamentals of Computer Science along the way, eventually. But making an effort to understand them before really starting off with coding will speed things up later on, trust me.

Learning the basics of Computer Science right away will help you reach your goals with coding faster and more efficiently. You quite simply won’t get confused about terminology as often, saving you a lot of time.

Do I need to be good in math to learn Computer Science?

Quite often I’m asked whether you need to be really good at math to become a programmer or in order to learn CS. My answer is the same every time: it’s not about math at all. Instead, it’s more about the capability to understand how things work together.

“Becoming good at coding is about being able to understand a specific problem and then working towards solving it in the best possible way.”

Hence, learning the basics of both Computer Science and coding will require skills in logical thinking and solving problems in various ways. You don’t necessarily need to be a math nerd – you will get far with just basic arithmetics.

Of course, you will also need quite a bit of patience, too. You know, for those days when things don’t go the way you planned.

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