Informatics – Applied Computer Science
Informatics has been referred to as applied Computer Science. Informatics
strives to harness the synergistic effects of integrating computing technology into a variety of
domains (including business, health, etc.) to improve operational accessibility, efficiency, and effectiveness
within an organization. Informatics is fundamentally an interdisciplinary approach to domain problems, and as
such is limited neither to a single discipline nor a single domain. Because Informatics extends beyond the
boundaries of computer science, it can lead to insights that will drive advances in computing. Its greater
scope also provides more options and areas of inquiry for students.
To more clearly show Informatics within the broader area of computing, the following diagram depicts a
continuum of the various computing-related disciplines (Electrical Engineering, Computer Engineering, Computer
Science, Software Engineering, Information Technology, Information Systems, and Informatics). The figure is
an augmented version of one that first appeared in Computing Curricula 2004 (Joint
Task Force for Computing Curricula, 2004), and later modified to incorporate Informatics (Kay, van der Hoek,
& Richardson, 2005). The diagram shows that Informatics extends from "software" to "organizational needs".
This indicates that Informatics serves as a bridge from computer science and
software engineering to information
technology and information systems, a bridge that is formed by making
context central to the field. The premise that drives this is the knowledge that
computing systems are not developed as isolated artifacts, but as solutions to problems, addressing software
and information, development and design, technical and social factors, as well as creation and study of
implemented solutions (Kay, van der Hoek, & Richardson, 2005).
A publication titled “Why an informatics degree?” (Groth & MacKie-Mason, 2010)
explains informatics in this way:
Informatics makes connections between the work people do and technology that can support
that work (ASU, 2015). Informatics, in general, studies the intersection of people, information, and technology
systems. It focuses on the ever-expanding, ubiquitous, and embedded relationship between information systems and the
daily lives of people, from simple systems that support personal information management to massive distributed
databases manipulated in real time.
Informatics integrates computational sciences with the arts, the humanities, and the health, biological,
information, natural, and social sciences in an interdisciplinary approach to solving problems (UICS, 2016).
Examples of multi-disciplinary degrees offered at ISU include the following:
- informatics + business = business informatics
- informatics + health care administration = health informatics
Additional examples of the application of information technology to specific domains can be viewed here: link
Informaticists augment knowledge of computer science, software design, information technology, and information
systems concepts with extensive domain knowledge to improve the ways in which we interact, utilize, and produce
results within an application area. Their expertise is not limited to technology alone, but also requires an
understanding of the organizational mission and the core business strategies of their organization. Informatics
goes beyond computer science and information systems to resolve problems encountered in areas that are predominately
outside of computing.