**Computer science** is the study of the theoretical foundations of information and computation, and of practical techniques for their implementation and application in computer systems. It is frequently described as the systematic study of algorithmic processes that describe and transform information; the fundamental question underlying computer science is, "What can be (efficiently) automated? Computer science has many sub-fields; some, such as computer graphics, emphasize the computation of specific results, while others, such as computational complexity theory, study the properties of computational problems. Still others focus on the challenges in implementing computations. For example, programming language theory studies approaches to describing computations, while computer programming applies specific programming languages to solve specific computational problems, and human-computer interaction focuses on the challenges in making computers and computations useful, usable, and universally accessible to people.

The general public sometimes confuses computer science with vocational areas that deal with computers , or think that it relates to their own experience of computers, which typically involves activities such as gaming, web-browsing, and word-processing. However, the focus of computer science is more on understanding the properties of the programs used to implement software such as games and web-browsers, and using that understanding to create new programs or improve existing ones.

**Theory of computation** is the branch of computer science and mathematics that deals with whether and how efficiently problems can be solved on a model of computation, using an algorithm. The field is divided into two major branches: computability theory and complexity theory, but both branches deal with formal models of computation.

In order to perform a rigorous study of computation, computer scientists work with a mathematical abstraction of computers called a model of computation. There are several models in use, but the most commonly examined is the Turing machine. A Turing machine can be thought of as a desktop PC with a potentially infinite memory capacity, though it can only access this memory in small discrete chunks. Computer scientists study the Turing machine because it is simple to formulate, can be analyzed and used to prove results, and because it represents what many consider the most powerful possible "reasonable" model of computation. It might seem that the potentially infinite memory capacity is an unrealizable attribute, but any decidable problem solved by a Turing machine will always require only a finite amount of memory. So in principle, any problem that can be solved by a Turing machine can be solved by a computer that has a bounded amount of memory.