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Studying Computer Science in Germany

Computer scientists focus on processing, transmitting and storing data.
An article by Madlen Ottenschläger

Studying Computer Science in Germany
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Computer Science

That is what it’s about

Computer science is the science of the systematic processing of information - and today it is found in almost all technical systems and penetrates all areas of everyday life. This also raises ethical questions: What consequences does it have that machines are getting smarter? Can algorithms manipulate options? "Computer scientists are no longer simply technology suppliers," says Norbert Ritter, professor at the University of Hamburg and chairman of the Faculty for Computer Science. IT security is becoming increasingly important. How to protect corporate values and personal information Collecting, storing, managing and analysing data is a mammoth task as data volumes grow larger and larger (big data). One possible application is medicine. Computer-aided evaluation of patient data should improve diagnoses. Together with engineers, computer scientists work on the “Internet of Things”: Everyday objects are merged with computer technology to make them "smart objects," for example, traffic lights adapt to the flow of traffic. It's also about machine learning and artificial intelligence.

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This is how the course runs

Mathematics plays a big role, along with data structures, software development, formal languages and logic. Students learn how to manage large amounts of data, how to turn an idea into an algorithm, and how to build information systems that communicate securely with each other. Computer scientists often work in groups during study, learning how project management works and how to present results. Even later on in professional life the following applies: Complex software systems cannot be developed and operated by individuals. In the higher semesters students choose a specialization. Depending on the degree program and the university, topics such as data security, network technology, Internet engineering, data mining or artificial intelligence are available. “However, university knowledge is only sufficient for starting a career, after which you have to continue to educate yourself,” says Klaus Lang, professor at TH Bingen and chairman of the Computer Science faculty. Some of the Bachelor's programs are specialized from the beginning, for example on bio-computer science or medical computer science. It's important to look carefully before you commit yourself. The study program Business Informatics is particularly common.

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Typical questions raised within the subject

  • Can an algorithm unmask fake news?
  • Which data protection laws must be observed in a project?
  • Can a computer system make its own decisions?
  • Which quality assurance procedures exist for software systems?
  • How does a solution idea become an algorithm?
  • What ethical questions does a development raise?
  • How to optimize the storage structure of a database?

The subject suits you,...

...if you have a talent for abstract thinking, work well in a team, and can put yourself in the perspective of the user. "In professional life computer scientists develop software solutions often for people who understand little of the underlying program and data concepts," says Klaus Lang. That is only possible with communication skills and social skills. You need endurance for your studies, says Norbert Ritter from the University of Hamburg. "Many view maths as a burden, some are frustrated and give up," he says. In his opinion, often too early, because: "With enough determination, maths can be worked through." Almost all colleges offer bridging courses and tutorials.

Is there a numerus clausus?

There is a numerus clausus in about one third of the programs. It is usually between grade two and three.

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Studying Computer Science in Germany
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