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Thursday, 12 July 2012

What do computers do?

We use computers for a lot of things. Playing games, writing book reports, calculating math
problems... It actually all started with math problems.
Ÿ So these boxes can calculate quite well. Very well.
Ÿ We do know that they do what they are told. You push a button, and the computer does it.
It does exactly what you tell it to do (which is not necessarily what you meant it to do...).
It follows instructions.
Ÿ Computers move information, for example your book report from the disk to the printer.
Or a file from the Internet to your display screen, or to your own hard disk. They store
information (all the book reports you have written are stored on the hard disk), and they
manage it (you can find it again).
How do those silicon switches we talked about actually make all this happen?
This class is going to explore just that: how we can do cool things, such as writing text, making
pictures and calculating with switches. Just like computers do.
This is called switch logic, or Boolean logic, after George Boole (English mathematician,
1815-1864), who was the first to think of it -- long before electronics existed!


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