Computer Definition and 41 Discussions

A computer is a machine that can be programmed to carry out sequences of arithmetic or logical operations automatically. Modern computers can perform generic sets of operations known as programs. These programs enable computers to perform a wide range of tasks. A computer system is a "complete" computer that includes the hardware, operating system (main software), and peripheral equipment needed and used for "full" operation. This term may also refer to a group of computers that are linked and function together, such as a computer network or computer cluster.
A broad range of industrial and consumer products use computers as control systems. Simple special-purpose devices like microwave ovens and remote controls are included, as are factory devices like industrial robots and computer-aided design, as well as general-purpose devices like personal computers and mobile devices like smartphones. Computers power the Internet, which links hundreds of millions of other computers and users.
Early computers were meant to be used only for calculations. Simple manual instruments like the abacus have aided people in doing calculations since ancient times. Early in the Industrial Revolution, some mechanical devices were built to automate long tedious tasks, such as guiding patterns for looms. More sophisticated electrical machines did specialized analog calculations in the early 20th century. The first digital electronic calculating machines were developed during World War II. The first semiconductor transistors in the late 1940s were followed by the silicon-based MOSFET (MOS transistor) and monolithic integrated circuit (IC) chip technologies in the late 1950s, leading to the microprocessor and the microcomputer revolution in the 1970s. The speed, power and versatility of computers have been increasing dramatically ever since then, with transistor counts increasing at a rapid pace (as predicted by Moore's law), leading to the Digital Revolution during the late 20th to early 21st centuries.
Conventionally, a modern computer consists of at least one processing element, typically a central processing unit (CPU) in the form of a microprocessor, along with some type of computer memory, typically semiconductor memory chips. The processing element carries out arithmetic and logical operations, and a sequencing and control unit can change the order of operations in response to stored information. Peripheral devices include input devices (keyboards, mice, joystick, etc.), output devices (monitor screens, printers, etc.), and input/output devices that perform both functions (e.g., the 2000s-era touchscreen). Peripheral devices allow information to be retrieved from an external source and they enable the result of operations to be saved and retrieved.

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  1. The Most Powerful Computers You've Never Heard Of

    The Most Powerful Computers You've Never Heard Of

    Analog computers were the most powerful computers for thousands of years, relegated to obscurity by the digital revolution. This Veritasium video looks at the history of computers and the differences between analog and digital computers.
  2. YoungPhysicist

    A marble based computer

    Recently I found this on YouTube: It’s about a small board machine that can do similar logic tasks to actual computers.
  3. E

    New metal gear 3D model in Blender

    Hi, it's been a long time since I've been on these forums, but here is a new 3D blender model that I spent four weeks of daily work to finish. I'm glad it's done, it wasn't easy. This is metal gear RAY, a 70-foot tall robot from the popular video game franchise metal gear solid.
  4. T

    How do computers keep time without power?

    I know the CMOS battery keeps the time and BIOS settings , but what is powered by the batter to keep time? A crystal oscillator? And why is it so crucial to keep time on a regular desktop computer?
  5. P

    A Recently, I want to write something about data in physics

    Nowadays, the machine learning of computer science is hot. It is based on data, and drove by data. Thus, a question is naturally coming out: the data in physics, and the models of data. I think it is a really empirical way to know how physicists do the same thing as the computer scientists. So...
  6. pairofstrings

    Digital Transparent Glass; what's its name?

    Hi. I need to know the name of the transparent glass which can display objects like Line, Circle, Numbers, or maybe my name. Thanks!
  7. nomadreid

    Curious message after login about administrator

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  8. ISamson

    Analog Computers

    There are two types of 'reading'. Digital and analog. There are digital computers, which function with 'on' and 'off' data. But can it possible to construct an analog computer? Can it be theoretically possible?
  9. S

    Computer engineering projects for physics. Proposals?

    i'm a computer engineering student but i have always been interested in physics and wanted to contribute to it,next semester i will be working on my senior project and i was wondering if any of the physicists here or scientists in general think that there's something that i could create whether...
  10. L

    Can I upgrade my laptop?

    can anybody please tell me if it is possible to upgrade my computers GPU. just write in the comments if you need info about my pc to detemine it!
  11. E

    Comp Sci C++ overloading function

    Homework Statement [/B] Write a function fForceOfGravity, with return type double and with two double parameters for mass (m) and gravity (g). Parameter gravity must be initialized to 9.81. The force of gravity is given by the formula F=mg. Call these functions in the main () as follows: cout...
  12. pairofstrings

    Conventional Computers vs Artificially Intelligent Computers

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  13. jamalkoiyess

    What is the computer hardware needed by a physicist?

    I am looking at desktop and laptop options, but I do not know which will be beneficial to me as a Physics student. I am a sophomore and am looking for something that can last up to 5 years of performance without having to upgrade and also it should fit my needs as a physicist. Since I know so...
  14. O

    Quantum Computer Dream PC

    Just for fun let's imagine a dream PQC (Personal Quantum Computer) from the future: Specifications: - 4MQ Processer (4MQ = 4 Mega Qubits) - 1TB Time Crystal Memory - 2PB Atomic Storage Hard Drive (Peta Byte=1000TB) - 3D Quantum Dot Screen with built in Holographic Display - All in one Quantum...
  15. Const@ntine

    Could a Mac be useful for a physics student?

    Hey there! As the title implies, I'm looking for a new computer, and I'm thinking of going with a MAC this time. See, I'm in my first Semester of Physics (here we don't take courses per se, we get into a specific branch of a University and we attend the lectures mandated by said branch, we can't...
  16. enorbet

    From the Moon to the Scrap Heap and Back

    Greetings all In the mid 1960s Raytheon developed the first microcomputer chip ICs and Rope Memory that would get us to the moon. Apparently within a mere 10 years these historic small steps that were more than a decade ahead of their time and of considerable historic value were auctioned off...
  17. L

    Operating a portable ultrasound machine in -30 degrees C

    Dear friends. I am a cardiovascular health researcher writing on behalf of my research team based in Copenhagen, Denmark. We plan to conduct a high-altitude field study on cardiopulmonary function assesed by ultrasound on Aconcagua summit in near 7000 meters altitude. Reports say it will be...
  18. RedRum69

    Stay with windows 10 or go with Linux

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  19. MarwanAq

    Programs Computer engineering or electrical engineering to physics?

    I am currently a computer engineering student , in my second year to be precise. I was just wondering if I could continue my postgraduate studies in physics or anything similar , and will I be better off with a degree in electrical engineering ?. like is electrical engineering closer to physics ?.
  20. S

    Connect 4 C#

    Homework Statement When I try and play it, it says that the Index out of range system was unhandled. I am pretty sure it is the j loop. Please help. In the game Connect 4, you can win diagonally, the grid is 6 squares down and 7 across. (5 positions down, 6 positions across including 0.)...
  21. Vivan Vatsa

    What is going to be the future of computer industry?

    this question always arises in my mind after working on my iPad, that what will be the future of computer industry, 10 years from now... Is it going to help us or will it be the main cause of destruction. We humans are no magician, who can tell the future but I want suggestion on-- How you all...
  22. BruceW~

    Do you need a decent PC for college level computer science?

    Hi guys I'm going to study CS in college this fall, but don't know if I need to upgrade my computer or not. I understand you need a lot of computing power for some heavy caculation but just wondering is that going to happen at the college level courses. My current set up is a pc with i3 3220...
  23. P

    Which PC screen is better?

    Which is better: the traditional glossy screen or that newer matte screen?
  24. M

    Engineering Can computer engineers do CS jobs?

    If a job listing asks for a degree in computer science, can someone with a computer engineering degree apply for that job? assuming the computer engineer meets all other qualifications
  25. M

    Schools Grad school for Bioengineering with bachelors in CompE?

    Can you get into a graduate program for biomedical engineering with a computer engineering degree? would you be at a big disadvantage to someone with an electrical engineering degree?
  26. M

    Looking for a numeric classical mechanics problem for project

    Homework Statement I was recently assigned an assignment where my instructor told us to come up with an idea for a numeric classical mechanics problem that is solved by computer methods. Some ideas the instructor gave was to simulate motion of a sun-earth-moon system or simulate the tides of a...
  27. chaiein

    How to create a pose graph from the image descriptor?

    what are the different kinds of input can be given to make a pose graph?
  28. Hunter Brandon

    How do I get started in computer science as a senior?

    I've always been interested in computer science and programming and have tried to learn the basics this past summer. It wasn't until my senior year that my school has offered a class dedicated to computer science. How should I prepare?
  29. EJC

    Best Laptop / Important Laptop Specs?

    Hello PF, I'm in the market for a new computer and due to my needs I've got it narrowed down to a laptop. My budget is about $1000, maybe a little more if need be. I'm looking for advice on what hardware specs would be most useful for the standard physics major. I run MATLAB, Maple, and a few...
  30. M

    Stuck Between Aerospace engineering and Computer Engineering

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  31. G

    Computational physics desktop

    So, I'm going into my senior year in college. I'm a physics major working on computational physics research - lots of enormous sets of data and multi-dimensional modeling. I'm also applying to phd programs for when I graduate. I have a $1500 grant for use in my research, so my PI has told me to...
  32. M

    What computer should a Mechenaical Engineering Student Buy

    Hello all. My daughter is going to start as a freshman in a BS Mechanical Engineering program. I want to buy her a PC that will last her through her 4 years of school. My initial thoughts were some of the light, but relatively powerful new offerings (Surface and other thin designs), but I...
  33. U

    Too late to pursue Computer Engineering at age 27?

    Hello. I have been contemplating whether or not I should start pursuing a degree in CE, EE, or Comp Sci. I currently work as a wildland firefighter and am not happy with what I do. I started to learn programming about 9 months ago with various online tools such as Codecademy and taking online...
  34. R

    Electrical vs Computer Engineering

    Hello, I'm currently enrolled as a Dual-Major in Electrical & Computer Engineering. To be honest I'm more interested in the software and computing side of the aforementioned disciplines. But there are only 5 extra classes over my last 4 semesters I would have to take and they are...
  35. M

    How the original Turing machine broke the enigma

    I just saw The Imitation Game and was wondering how the original Turing machine broke the enigma. Could someone explain it to me?
  36. A

    Write a Pseudocode for the following instructions:

    Homework Statement - Calculating the factorial of a number N - For simulating the roll of a die 200 times (include the calculation for the relative frequency of the number 4 in the upface of the die within the 200 rolls) Homework Equations None? The Attempt at a Solution I am taking this...
  37. nearc

    Gravitational equations used in model of orbiting bodies

    In practice I’ve found that a valid gravitational model of orbiting bodies only works when the force is computed with only the other mass and not both masses. Thus, the original equation does not work but the modified one does. Is using one mass ok or am I doing something wrong? thanks. [also...
  38. H

    Physics researcher/student needing new laptop

    Hello, I'm a physics student (currently a senior in college, planning on going to graduate school for a Ph.D.). My current laptop is encountering major problems, mostly small things that make it not worth investing more money into the laptop, given that it's already old. I currently do...
  39. D

    Motherboard bus speed physical maximum

    I read somewhere (article, messageboard, i can't find it anymore) that motherboard bus speeds are limited because if the frequency gets too high then the signal will disappear. I guess I understood it to mean that the bus wire will become like and antenna if the frequency is too high. They...
  40. B

    Ubuntu 14.04, wireless network cannot connect

    I have recently installed ubuntu 14.04 alongside windows 7 but I'm having major issues with connecting to wireless networks. The networks are detected and show up in the network manager, but when I connect and insert the correct password (double checked), a window continues to pop up saying that...
  41. S

    Engineering Computer Engineering Career Paths

    The university I am currently at offers three "concentrations", if that's what you want to call it. They are hardware systems; communications and signal processing; and computer architecture, software and systems. What is the current job market like for these three areas? Are all the jobs...