What is a Computer & Information Research Scientist?

Also known as: Computer Scientist, Computer Research Scientist, Computer Information Research Scientist, Computer and Information Research Scientist.

Computer & information research scientists invent and design new technology and find new uses for existing technology. They study and solve complex problems in computing for business, science, medicine, and other uses. Most work for computer systems design and related services firms, scientific research and development companies, or the federal government.

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What does a Computer & Information Research Scientist do?

Information research scientists create and improve computer algorithms, which are sets of instructions that tell a computer what to do. Some computer tasks are very difficult and require complex algorithms. Information research scientists try to simplify these instructions to make the computer system as efficient as possible. These algorithms become the foundation for advancements in many types of technology such as machine learning systems and cloud computing.

Information research scientists’ work often leads to advancement and increased efficiency in many areas, such as better networking technology, faster computing speeds, and improved information security. In general, they work on a more theoretical level than other computer professionals.

Computer & information research scientists typically do the following:

  • Explore fundamental issues in computation and develop theories and models to address those issues

  • Help scientists and engineers solve complex computing problems

  • Invent new computing languages, tools, and methods to improve the way in which people work with computers

  • Develop and improve the software systems that form the basis of the modern computing experience

  • Design experiments to test the operation of these software systems

  • Analyze the results of their experiments

  • Publish their findings in academic journals

Many people with a computer and information research science background become professors and teachers. In general, researchers in an academic setting focus on computer theory, although those working for businesses or scientific organizations usually focus on projects that have the possibility of producing profits.

Some computer scientists collaborate with electrical engineers, computer hardware engineers, and other specialists to work on multidisciplinary projects. The following are examples of some specialties for information research scientists:

Hardware: Information research scientists who study hardware architecture discover new ways to process and send information. They design computer chips and processors using new materials and technology to make chips and processors work faster and to give them more computing power.

Robotics: Some information research scientists study how to improve robots. Robotics explores how a machine can interact with the physical world as effectively as humans and other living creatures. Information research scientists create the programs that control the robots. They work closely with engineers who focus on the hardware design of robots. Together, these workers test how well the robots do the tasks they were created to do – such as assemble cars and collect data on other planets.

Software: Information research scientists write the software that controls the electronic components in cars and other advanced machines. The embedded software written by computer scientists is complex and requires a high degree of accuracy because of the consequences of failure of the electronic components within such products, such as a car’s braking system or an ultrasound machine.

What is the workplace of a Computer & Information Research Scientist like?

Most information research scientists work for computer systems design and related services firms, scientific research and development companies, or the federal government. Some also work for software companies. Most work full time, and those who do independent research may have flexibility in their work schedules.

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