Question's in the title; what makes Computer Science Stack Exchange differ from Theoretical Computer Science Stack Exchange?

  • $\begingroup$ Surely has come up before... $\endgroup$ Nov 15, 2015 at 21:58
  • $\begingroup$ It's in the site description, too. $\endgroup$
    – Raphael
    Nov 16, 2015 at 0:09

1 Answer 1


Theoretical computer science is for mathematicians working in the field of theoretical computer science, at the level of graduate student and upwards. It accepts only research-level questions.

Computer science, in contrast, is for all levels of theoretical computer science, defined somewhat more broadly than in TCS. Many questions here are homework exercises, though some are genuine questions by undergraduates or by working professionals outside academia, or more rarely more basic questions by experts. Some of these questions (both by undergraduates, by professionals, and by post-graduates) are difficult enough to merit asking in TCS.

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for the clarification! $\endgroup$
    – JesseTG
    Nov 15, 2015 at 22:09
  • $\begingroup$ "all levels of theoretical computer science" -- that's misleading. It's for all computer science, as long as we are talking science in the academic sense. (cc @JesseTG) $\endgroup$
    – Raphael
    Nov 16, 2015 at 0:10
  • $\begingroup$ @Raphael This is plainly false. There is very little of numerical analysis, databases, machine learning, computer vision, computational geometry, software development, and so on. Maybe a tiny bit, but that's all. It's mostly focused on the more theoretical parts of the core undergraduate curriculum. $\endgroup$ Nov 16, 2015 at 6:09
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    $\begingroup$ There is a difference between scope definition and what we are actually getting. The former is broader than the latter, unfortunately. But you should not make the mistake to communicate that this site is only for TCS -- it most certainly is not. All aspects of (academic) CS are welcome. $\endgroup$
    – Raphael
    Nov 16, 2015 at 7:48
  • $\begingroup$ "Theoretical computer science is for mathematicians working in the field of theoretical computer science" -- isn't it also for computer scientists working in this field? $\endgroup$
    – Raphael
    Dec 29, 2015 at 12:27
  • $\begingroup$ @Raphael I don't think so. If you're constructing robots, running machine learning algorithms on big data, or constructing efficient distributed databases, then I don't think you're too welcome. Of course, you could call yourself a computer scientist even though you're doing mathematics. This doesn't make you less of a mathematician, whatever you choose to call yourself. $\endgroup$ Dec 29, 2015 at 13:37
  • $\begingroup$ That's an issue of semantics, then. For me, people pursueing theoretical computer science are computer scientists (it's in the name!), never mind many mathematicians marauding the field for funds ( ;) ). So, to be clear for future readers: you are welcome on Theoretical Computer Science if you don't have a mathematics degree as long as you pursue TCS on research level. Conversely, people outside research-level TCS with a mathematics degree would be in the wrong place. $\endgroup$
    – Raphael
    Dec 29, 2015 at 14:21

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