Kinds of computers

 

CS 231: Introduction to Programming
Lecture #1: Computers and Information

Kinds of computers
bullet Pre-mechanical computers

• Stonehenge is an example of a computer with no moving parts (unless you count the Earth itself as moving)

• Stonehenge transforms information about stellar and planetary positions into information about important dates and events (harvests, etc.)

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CS 231: Introduction to Programming
Lecture #1: Computers and Information

Kinds of computers
bullet Pre-mechanical computers
bullet Mechanical computers

• early designs for more traditional computers (many of which were never built) were based on mechanical techniques (levers, gears, etc.)

• the slide rule and abacus are mechanical devices which help people perform numeric calculations

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CS 231: Introduction to Programming
Lecture #1: Computers and Information

Kinds of computers
bullet Pre-mechanical computers
bullet Mechanical computers
bullet Electronic computers the modern computers we are used to are based largely on electronic devices, with some optical (e.g., monitors) and mechanical (e.g., mouse, speakers) components

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CS 231: Introduction to Programming
Lecture #1: Computers and Information

Kinds of computers
bullet Pre-mechanical computers
bullet Mechanical computers
bullet Electronic computers
bullet Optical computers current research in computer architecture includes much work on the design of computers which use light beams to perform computation; these machines should be smaller, faster and cooler than current electronic machines

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CS 231: Introduction to Programming
Lecture #1: Computers and Information

Kinds of computers
bullet Pre-mechanical computers
bullet Mechanical computers
bullet Electronic computers
bullet Optical computers
bullet Biological computers I

• another cutting-edge area of research is the design of computers based on DNA: problems are encoded on strands of DNA which are mixed in solution and react to form DNA-coded answers

• one such DNA computer was used to solve instances of the "Traveling Salesman" problem

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CS 231: Introduction to Programming
Lecture #1: Computers and Information

Kinds of computers
bullet Pre-mechanical computers
bullet Mechanical computers
bullet Electronic computers
bullet Optical computers
bullet Biological computers I
bullet Biological computers II

• of course, according to our definitions, people can be considered to be computers. In fact, this term was originally used to describe people who performed hand calculations in large teams

• are fingers a computer? They can store, communicate and transform (?) information about numbers and counting.

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