Summary: What is Theoretical Computer Science?
This article presents a bird's eye view of Theoretical Computer Science
aimed at a general scientific audience. It then focuses on a selected area
within this general field, and discusses some of the applications of results
from that area and of the fundamental theoretical questions that drive its de-
1 Introduction and Overview
Even for many scientifically cultured people, the mention of the expression "The-
oretical Computer Science" (henceforth abbreviated to TCS) sounds like a contra-
diction in terms. Indeed, there seems to be little that is as practical as, and less
theoretical than, Computer Science.
We all have some level of familiarity with computers, and our daily experience
shows us how these machines have dramatically changed, and most likely will
continue changing, many aspects of our lives. Moreover, embedded computing
devices permeate our world to a degree that is sometimes not appreciated by the
layman, since these systems and the software that increasingly provides their core