School of Informatics

What is Informatics?

The study of the structure, the behaviour, and the interactions of natural and engineered computational systems.

The central focus of Informatics is the transformation of information - whether by computation or communication, whether by organisms or artefacts. Understanding informational phenomena - such as computation, cognition, and communication - enables technological advances.

Informatics: A wide and varied discipline

Informatics has many aspects, and encompasses a number of existing academic disciplines - Artificial Intelligence, Cognitive Science and Computer Science. Each takes part of Informatics as its natural domain. In broad terms:

  • Cognitive Science concerns the study of natural systems
  • Computer Science concerns the analysis of computation, and design of computing systems
  • Artificial Intelligence plays a connecting role, designing systems which emulate those found in nature

Informatics also informs and is informed by other disciplines, such as Mathematics, Electronics, Biology, Linguistics and Psychology. Consequently, Informatics provides a link between disciplines with their own methodologies and perspectives and brings together a common scientific paradigm.

Informatics: Understanding systems

Computational systems, whether natural or engineered, are distinguished by their great complexity. Informatics seeks to understand and to construct (or reconstruct) such systems, using analytic, experimental and engineering methodologies.

Informatics: What are the challenges?

By studying computational systems, Informatics seeks to address the following challenges:

  • Determining how far, and in what circumstances, theories of information processing in artificial devices can be applied to natural systems.
  • Determining how far principles derived from natural systems are applicable to the development of new kinds of engineered systems.
  • Exploring the many ways in which artificial information systems can help to solve problems facing mankind and help to improve the quality of life for all living things.