A machine that can be programmed to manipulate symbols. Computers can perform complex and repetitive procedures quickly, precisely and reliably and can store and retrieve large amounts of data. Most computers in use today are electronic digital computers (as opposed to analogue computers).

The physical components from which a computer is constructed are known as hardware, which can be of four types: CPU, memory, input devices and output devices.

The CPU (central processing unit) executes software programs which tell the computer what to do. Input and output (I/O) devices allow the computer to communicate with the user and the outside world. There are many kinds of memory or storage - fast, expensive, short term memory (e.g. RAM) to hold intermediate results, and slower, cheaper, long-term memory (e.g. magnetic disk and magnetic tape) to hold programs and data that are not being used immediately.

Computers today are often connected to a network (which may be part of the Internet). This allows them to be accessed from elsewhere and to exchange data with other computers.

Last updated: 2018-06-25

Nearby terms:

ComputercomputerComputer Aided DesignComputer Aided Detector Design

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