(The Right Choice’ is a series by The Indian Express that addresses common questions, misconceptions, and doubts surrounding undergraduate admissions. You can read the stories here.)
Bachelor of Technology (B.Tech) Data science or Computer Science? One’s a trusted field of engineering, the other is relatively new and in high demand. Both have several overlaps in terms of the course structure but differ as well.
A brief overview of how the disciplines came to be and what they have to offer:
Tracing the origins
Experts believe computer science is data science’s parent discipline.
“If you trace the evolution of computer science, the focus was initially on computing and algorithms. Data was peripheral. As more and more systems got automated, databases became very important. Data warehousing and data mining emerged sometime in the 1990s,” said Shreekanth M Prabhu, head of the department of Computer Science and Engineering at CMR Institute of Technology.
He added: “With the emergence of the web and social media in the last two decades, data got all the more varied, with a huge amount of user-generated content leading to the “Big Data” phenomenon characterised by 4 v’s – volume, variety, velocity, and variety.”
The two courses are, therefore, connected to each other in some ways. While software engineering and development are the points of focus in a computer science degree, data science includes arithmetic, statistics, and computer science.
Through the use of machine learning and related approaches, computational challenges in data science are connected to the algorithmic issues in computer science.
Robin P Mathur, head of department, Big Data and Data Science at Lovely Professional University said: “The two are part of a symbiotic connection, with subtleties to each that support the other, as those on the inside realise. Data scientists provide novel methods for sorting through the enormous amounts of data that pass through network systems…and extracting insights that may be put to use on top of the foundation that computer science has created.”
While some believe that the two courses are almost similar, Taruna Gautam, vice chancellor of the Institute of Integrated Learning Management University was of the opinion that a computer science student could choose to become a data science researcher but the opposite may not happen.
“It is evident that computer science allows students to study all the core subjects that prepare them to be flexible with the different domains of engineering. It supports them to move forward with a masters and a PhD in specialised domains. They can also pursue careers in other fields such as interdisciplinary research, full stack development, IT and Electronics,” he added.
The demand for data science graduates has seen an increase, despite it being a relatively new discipline.
Data science was named the fastest-growing job arena by LinkedIn in 2017. Glassdoor, the company review site, ranked “data scientist” as one of the best jobs in the United States in 2018.
According to a study conducted by IBM, there was a 39 per cent growth in employer demand for both data scientists and data engineers by 2020. According to AIM research, conducted by Analytics India Magazine, the data science or analytics jobs figure witnessed a 30.1 per cent increase in India for April 2022 in comparison to April 2021.
“Students who aspire for high pay packages can opt for specialisation in data science. The prospects are the same for both, except that some companies are coming up with specific job roles such as data analyst /data engineer. In such cases, they prefer data science students. The selection process mainly depends on programming skills, communication and their exposure to the present trending technologies,” pointed out K Thammi Reddy, professor at the computer science department at GITAM (Deemed to be University).
Saying that the growth in data science does not necessarily mean a drop in the demand for computer science, Gautam added, “There may be an increase in demand for data study with the growth of social media platforms and data sets, but developing these platforms from scratch is where the B.Tech in Computer Science will shine as students are able to understand the development requirements of these platforms, thus allowing them to support the daily upgradation and scalability for the same”.
While data scientists are in demand in insurance, banking, social media, analytics, advertisements and more, computer science graduates are hired as software developers, software testing engineers, quality analysts, web developers, among others.
The final choice
Both courses require analytical, problem-solving skills, in addition to being detail-oriented.
For someone who is interested in creating and testing software and applications as well as network security and system design, the right choice would be computer science. Students who have a passion for studying and analysing data can opt for data science.
Another choice available for a student who is confused between the two is to choose B.Tech Computer Science and specialise in data science in the second year of engineering.
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Deeksha TeriDeeksha Teri is currently working as a Senior Sub-Editor at indianexpr… read more