School of Informatics and Computing Menu

Informatics Defined

Computing in context. Harnessing the power and possibility of technology, informatics turns data and information into knowledge that people can use every day.

  • Creating 3-D animations to help explain surgery to patients
  • Accelerating drug discovery through information technology
  • Developing computer applications to manage disaster relief
  • Exploring human interactions with computers, mobile devices, and robots

Informatics is all of this – and so much more. In the world of information and technology, it’s the bridge to all things useful. Informatics is the future.

Our Definition of Informatics

The Indiana University School of Informatics and Computing defines the field as “the study and application of information technology to the arts, science and professions, and to its use in organizations and society at large.”  Informatics students build new computing tools and applications. They study how people interact with information technology. They study how information technology shapes our relationships, our organizations, and our world.

Informatics is a new and rapidly developing field. It uses computing to solve the big problems: privacy, security, healthcare, education, poverty, and challenges in our environment. All Informatics applications are computer-based. Those applications are enhanced with tools and techniques from fields such as communication, mathematics, multimedia, and human-computer interaction design. Informatics differs from computer science and computer engineering because of its strong focus on the human use of computing.

Students of Informatics learn skills that allow them to harness the power of computing to solve real problems that directly impact our lives and the lives of those around us. They use their technology and problem solving skills to make a difference in the world. For students interested in a career with infinite potential, Informatics stands out as a strong, flexible and dynamic field of study.

The Impact of Informatics

“Today the computational power of an early mainframe can be found in an electronic greeting card, and the computational power that guided Apollo 11 to the moon is contained in a Furby electronic toy.

Envisioning the Future of Computing Research Communications of the ACM Viewpoint, August 2008

This is what we do in health

  • Construct computer health information systems by studying the needs of doctors, nurses, patients, and health care organizations
  • Create health networks that allow doctors and nurses to share knowledge and best practices
  • Create new methods of information delivery that motivate patients to follow treatment recommendations

This is what we do for the world in health:

  • Provide accurate digital health records available instantly when needed
  • Identify the best treatment for patients based on evidence drawn from national health networks
  • Allow patients to participate in their own care through the creation of digital Personal Health Records

This is what we do in science

  • Extend our understanding of the human genome
  • Develop computing applications that manage data from biotechnical and pharmaceutical collaborations
  • Manage and understand data collected to solve scientific challenges in the natural and social sciences

This is what we do for the world in science

  • Find new and more effective personalized medicines
  • Track the spread of disease and find new ways to reduce its impact
  • Visualize scientific data in ways that aid human understanding

This is what we do in Human Computer Interaction (HCI)

  • Devise theories and methods to improve human interaction with computers
  • Design and develop computer interfaces that connect individuals and groups
  • Study human intelligence to create better machine intelligence

This is what we do for the world in HCI

  • Design desktop, mobile and medical devices that sense user needs
  • Create shared work applications that increase successful collaboration
  • Complement human abilities with artificial intelligence and robotic skills

This is what we do in interactive media and art

  • Create 2-D and 3-D animation and visualizations
  • Explore the best use of digital media to solve problems in  education, health care and entertainment
  • Study and design  the structure of information and its aesthetic presentation
  • Build simulation and virtual reality environments

This is what we do for the world in interactive media and art

  • Employ digital tools to create learning experiences that engage all the senses
  • Create educational computer games that immerse users in useful learning through casual and serious play
  • Design and develop interactive websites for business, education and medical enterprises
  • Model new platforms for learning

This is what we do in business

  • Develop information tools to capture and analyze data to create better business intelligence
  • Design decision support systems to assist business leaders
  • Create software tools that automate warehouses and factories

This is what we do for the world in business

  • Integrate computer technology into vital business operations
  • Provide tools that manage global supply chains
  • Drive the innovation businesses need to be competitive in the 21st century

This is what we do in communities

  • Create information and communication technologies that bridge cultural gaps
  • Build geographic information systems that map our communities and help with urban planning
  • Use technology to promote government participation and voting

This is what we do for communities and the world

  • Connect world communities so that they may better understand one another
  • Provide tools to design more livable and sustainable cities
  • Provide social networks that facilitate social engagement

Informatics makes all of this possible. And the best part? It’s just the beginning. With every new piece of information and every new technology, there’s an opportunity for Informatics to play a role – to create knowledge, to bridge a gap, to impact the future. And because our world is always changing, Informatics skills will remain in demand, making it a career with endless opportunity and a limitless future.