The Basics of Computing
Computing is the act of adding up or multiplying something, as well as performing more complex math functions on the numbers. It is also a term used to describe the technology behind electronic computers that process large amounts of data much faster than humans can. It is an area of science, engineering and mathematics that has many applications in our daily lives.
The computer itself is a programmable electronic device that accepts raw data as input and processes it with a set of instructions (a program) to render output. This output can be in the form of text, images or sound. The term computing is also used to refer to the development of software and hardware systems for a variety of goal-oriented activities, including scientific research, artificial intelligence and the creation and use of different media for entertainment and communication.
A modern computer is capable of doing calculations far beyond the capacity of human beings. This is possible because computers work with a base set of symbols, which are represented as zeroes and ones. The basic components of a computer are the central processor unit, or CPU, the memory and the output devices.
There are several types of memory in a computer, and each type serves a specific function. The most common is random access memory, or RAM, which stores information for a short period of time. This information can be accessed quickly because the memory works at the speed of electricity, which is much faster than the physical spinning of disks in a hard-drive system.
Another type of memory is the hard-drive drive, or HDD, which permanently stores the data and programs that make up a computer’s operating system. These drives vary in size and performance from a few hundred gigabytes to several terabytes. Some people use multiple hard-drives to store their files and apps in different locations, allowing them to have a backup in case of an emergency.
The central processor unit, or CPU, is the brain of a computer. The processor reads the instructions and data in memory, and then executes them. This execution may produce output, but it can also produce error messages that must be corrected before the next calculation. It is important to remember that a computer’s processor can do only what is instructed to do, regardless of what it might appear to be doing. Therefore, it is crucial to have a clear understanding of the purpose of each piece of code and how it will be processed. Then, the user can develop a clear picture of what is happening to his or her data as it travels through the computer system. It is this transparency that enables computing to achieve its true potential as an instrument of human knowledge.