IntroductionNotes - 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Here is a...

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Here is a very high level and very brief overview of computer science. We will spend the rest of the semester adding details to this overview. 13
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Let’s think about what computers are. Computers can be described as malleable tools for processing data. For this to make more sense, let’s first see what data is, why and how data is processed, and how computers process data. We will get back to this slide at the end of the lecture. 14
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What is data? The Webster dictionary defines it as “factual information used as a basis for reasoning, discussion, or calculation”. It is also the case that data can be: - Stored, such that it is available in the future - Transformed, in other words new data is obtained by processing input data - Transmitted, it can be communicated over great geographic distances. Here are some examples of data. 15
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What is the motivation behind processing data? Processing data can lead to insight and knowledge. It is processing that transforms the observed or simulated data into knowledge. For example one has to process the radio signals coming from space in order to detect patterns that might indicate extraterrestrial communication. As you surely know, computers also process data for entertainment purposes. 16
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Data processing by computers has several important characteristics. First, computers process data very quickly. One reason for this is that the computer clock frequency is very high. Think of the clock frequency as of the speed of the assembly line. Computers have Central Processing Units with clocks in the Gigahertz’s. 1 GHz means 1 billion ticks per second. Since one add takes one tick, that means one billion additions per second. CPU speeds have been increasing as chip transistor density increased. Moore noticed that transistor density doubles about every 2 years—that is called Moore’s law. However, transistor density increases have recently slowed down. It is estimated that the doubling period will be 3 years by the end of 2013. A second important reason why computers process data quickly, is that data is processed in parallel. Multiple pieces of data are processed simultaneously using multiple processing units. As you know, over the last years, as CPU speed has stopped increasing, computer manufacturers now make computers with multiple processors, each with multiple cores. This continues to increase the raw processing power of computers. However, it is not easy to take advantage of the tens of cores available.
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This note was uploaded on 02/27/2012 for the course CS 177 taught by Professor Staff during the Spring '08 term at Purdue University-West Lafayette.

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IntroductionNotes - 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Here is a...

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