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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.
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
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.
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.
Computer & information research scientists have typically earned a master's or a doctorate degree in their specific field of study, like physics, biology or chemistry. Most research scientists have completed postgraduate degrees in their field. Research scientist positions at colleges and universities generally require Ph.D.s, while master's degrees are sometimes acceptable for jobs in the public and private sectors.
Computer & information research scientists must be organized in their thinking and analyze the results of their research to formulate conclusions. They must communicate well with programmers and managers, as well as be able to clearly explain their conclusions to people who may have no technical background. They often write for academic journals and similar publications.
Most computer scientist jobs require a Ph.D since their primary function is research. Computer scientists that have earned only a bachelor's degree or a master's degree usually have limited advancement opportunities.
Computer and information research scientists innovate solutions to problems in computer hardware and software via extensive experimentation and testing. These professionals are well-paid.
Conduct research into fundamental computer and information science as theorists, designers, or inventors. Develop solutions to problems in the field of computer hardware and software.
The widespread and increasing use of computers and information technology has generated a need for highly trained, innovative workers with extensive theoretical expertise.