What would be the differences between these two branches of research? For what I know the theoretical research is the one that will not necessarily end up with an application part, but the applied research deals with experimentation.

So it would be safe to say that applied research = experimental research?

Could anybody can bring up some examples to show the difference between these two types of research in the field of Computer Science?

I have been searching for some information about these topics, but I was not able to get a definitive answer.


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    $\begingroup$ This is a very broad question, and the exact answer could depend on the research area. The border is not always well-defined. It is definitely not the case that applied research is always experimental. In computer science, applied research could be development of a program or of a machine (e.g. a self-driving car), and on the other hand, theoretical research could also involve experimentation. $\endgroup$ Apr 9 '17 at 16:43
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    $\begingroup$ In its generality, this may be better suited to Academia but I don't know if they would appreciate the question. $\endgroup$
    – Raphael
    Apr 9 '17 at 18:40

Rule of thumb:

  • Theoretical research concerns itself with models: defining models, determining their properties and theorems that hold given a set of models.

  • Applied research concerns itself with the real world: solving problems given a real context governed by physical (or social) laws.

Obviously, the two are intertwined and not always clearly separated. For instance, TCSists sometimes call a piece of work "applied" if the model of choice somewhat resembles reality, in contrast to being completely academic.


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