# Characteristics of Computers

Jul 6th, 2015
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Mayville State University
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Speed The computer was invented as a high-speed calculator. This has led to many scientific projects which were previously impossible. The control of the moon landing would not have been feasible without computers, and neither would today's more scientific approach to weather prediction. If we want tomorrow's forecast today (and not in six months time) meteorologists can use the computer to perform quickly the necessary calculations and analyses. When making flight reservations we want to know well in advance of take-off that a seat will be available - if it is not, then we have time to make other arrangements. The ability to get answers fast enough so that one has time to take action on them (or to make alternative plans, as in the case of airline reservations) makes real-time computing possible.

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Characteristics of ComputersSpeedThe computer was invented as a high-speed calculator. This has led to many scientific projects which were previously impossible. The control of the moon landing would not have been feasible without computers, and neither would today's more scientific approach to weather prediction. If we want tomorrow's forecast today (and not in six months time) meteorologists can use the computer to perform quickly the necessary calculations and analyses. When making flight reservations we want to know well in advance of take-off that a seat will be available - if it is not, then we have time to make other arrangements. The ability to get answers fast enough so that one has time to take action on them (or to make alternative plans, as in the case of airline reservations) makes real-time computing possible.Electrical pulses travel at incredible speeds and, because the computer is electronic, its internal speed is virtually instantaneous. We do not talk in terms of seconds or even milliseconds. Our units of speed are the microsecond (millionths), the nanosecond (thousand0millionths) and latterly even the picosecond (million-millionths). A powerful computer is capable of adding together two 18-digit number in 300 to 400 nanoseconds.Consider two examples from non-numerical environments. The manual indexing of the complete works of Thomas Aquinas (approximately 13 million words) would have taken 50 scholars about 40 years to accomplish. With t

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