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If you’re interested in studying computer science here at DigiPen, we’d like to invite you to sit down with Program Director Prasanna Ghali in this animated comic as he explains just what it is that sets DigiPen’s computer science education apart.

If you think about the earliest cars, you were closer to the pavement so to speak.

Prasanna Ghali, DigiPen Computer Science Program Director

There was less of an interface between you and the outside.

Today, the abstraction is much higher. You have devices that help you back up, signal danger, some even stop the car for you.

So now, you have less of an idea of what’s actually going on in the car. The same thing is true for computers.

Programming languages are essentially on a ladder from “low-level” to “high-level” abstractions.

With early computers, all you had was machine language, the lowest level. You’re talking to the computer in literally the only language it understands – 0s and 1s.

In the late 40s they came up with Assembly language, the next lowest level. Rather than long strings of 0s and 1s, you typed English-like mnemonics the computer could interpret.

Then in the 50s, they invented “high-level” languages like Fortran, the next abstraction.

Maybe I’m an astrophysicist and don’t know much about computers. High-level languages are easier to learn because they’re even more English-like.

Now people use abstractions that are even easier to learn, hiding even more complexity.

With higher-level languages, if you want to build, say, a mobile app, you don’t really need to know computer science.

You may need to move up and down these levels depending on how your career evolves.

But not all CS graduates may be able to go up and down that ladder. Many stay at higher levels. It depends on your school’s curriculum and your electives.

As we got more of these high-level abstractions, a lot of computer science schools found trying to get students involved in the lower levels a bit overwhelming.

From the very beginning of DigiPen, we’ve started off and spent more time at the lower levels.

*DigiPen founder Claude Comair in 1989.

The idea is, if I learn to work at the lower levels, then abstractions are just abstractions. They’re hiding complexity.

Say someone out there is building a game in the Unity engine.

Game engines work on hardware, they work on graphics processors. But someone working at a higher level with Unity might not know any of those details.

They could easily raise higher than that level as more abstractions are added on, but it will be much harder for them to abstract down.

At DigiPen, you build your first game project engines from scratch in either Assembly or C/C++, programming very “close to the metal” as we say – close to the hardware.

That way, even if you’re working at a higher level, you’ll be a lot faster and more efficient than your peers – simply because you understand how abstractions filter down to the lowest-level ideas. It will be much easier for you to work and solve problems at any level.

So as you can see, DigiPen isn’t your typical college. DigiPen offers six different computer science degree programs with a variety of focuses, but all share these same foundational ideas and curricula. Visit our Computer Science Degrees page to learn more!