What is CS Research?

Computer science is the engine of the digital revolution, contributing to the emergence of entirely new industries and dramatic changes in quality of life.

Continuing advances in this digital revolution depend heavily on research in computer science.

There is a wide array (or is it a linked list?) of research areas in computer science, ranging from the applied to the theoretical. Virtually every topic that you have seen in your undergraduate curriculum has an associated and active area of research, from algorithms, architecture, and artificial intelligence to virtual reality (we couldn’t think of any topics that end in w, x, y, or z, but let us know if you think of some!).

What is research in computer science? Some research is theoretical—for example designing and analyzing algorithms or investigating aspects of complexity theory. Some research is more applied and involves experiments, design, implementation, and testing. In every case, research is an exciting enterprise of intellectual exploration—often with important implications for computer science and society.

Research in computer science is a highly social and collaborative enterprise. Many researchers work in groups and they frequently attend conferences where they present their ideas and interact with colleagues. In fact, many areas of computer science research intersect with other fields and it’s quite common for computer scientists to interact with biologists, engineers, physicists, mathematicians, psychologists, to name just a few.

If you think that CS research is all about banging away on a keyboard in a solitary windowless cubicle, think again!

Additional Resources

Why should you choose Computer Science and Engineering?

Why do students choose computer science and computer engineering as their field? What are some of the diverse career paths that they pursue with their CSE degrees? For those who enter the software industry, what is a day in their life like?

Three videos from University of Washington Computer Science & Engineering address these questions. Take a look! Get a taste of what CSE holds in store for you! Learn more about this exciting field!


The following collection of short videos—funded by the CCC—were developed specifically with the intent of providing undergraduates with some concrete examples of current research in computer science. We’ll be adding to this collection as new videos are produced (please click here if you’d like to produce one, and you could receive up to $1000 from the CCC!)

Exploring Photobios

Project Page: UW Graphics and Imaging Laboratory
About: Exploring Photobios presents an approach for automatically generating face animations from large photo collections of a person’s face. By optimizing the order in which photos are displayed and cross-dissolving between them, compelling animations are created.

Originally published on June 14, 2011

Seattle: Open Peer-to-Peer Computing

Project Page: Seattle – Open Peer-to-Peer Computing.
About: Seattle makes the power of cloud computing available to everyone. It is a new testbed platform that allows researchers to access computational resources on a wide variety of devices and machines provided by everyday users.

Originally published on August 1, 2011

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