Computer Science SS1 First Term

Week 5

Topic: Basic Functions and Uses


Basic Functions of a Computer

Uses of a Computer


All computers, from the smallest hand held computer to the largest supercomputer, perform the same basic functions with digital information. Those functions are:

  • InputReceiving or accepting information from outside sources. The most common way of performing this function is through the information entered through the keyboard and the click of mouseTyping characters at a keyboard, moving the mouse around the screen or speaking to a computer.
  • OutputThe results of the processing are made available for use by any user or other devices. The most common ways of producing such outputs are through computer monitor, speakers, and printers. When a computer is connected to other devices, including through Internet, this output is in the form of electrical pulsesDisplaying characters or pictures on the screen, printing a research paper, or sending an e-mail message.
  • Processing This is really the core of computer operation. The computer processes the data that is fed to the computer by various means and the data already contained in internal memory to produce the results that is the core of all computer application. E.gCalculating the square root of a number, sorting a list of names, or producing a three-dimensional image
  • Storage – Store information in the computer. The memory is stored in computer in in several different ways depending on how the information is used. For simplicity we will classify in two broad categories. First is the memory in the central processing unit of the computer, and second is the auxiliary memory. The auxiliary memory includes devices such as fixed hard drives. The information stored in computer can also be divided broadly used in two categories. The user data and the instructions used for internal operation and processing in the compute. These instruction are what we call computer programs or software. E.g. Saving your research paper or resume, keeping track of your credit card purchases, or archiving digital pictures of your relatives
  • Retrieve – E.g. Recalling a list of addresses or business contacts



Computer can be used in all aspects of our everyday lives.

  1. Education : Getting the right kind of information is a major challenge as is getting information to make sense. Research shows that computers can significantly enhance performance in learning. Students exposed to the internet say they think the web has helped them improve the quality of their academic research and of their written work. Lots of academic information are available on the internet.
  2. Health and Medicine: All medical information and patient records can now be digitized. Software is now able to check the risk of a disease through computer usage. Mental health researchers are using computers to screen troubled teenagers in need of psychotherapy.
  3. Defence: a) Computers are used in helping the military find out where all their assets are (Situational Awareness) and in Communications/Battle Management Systems. b) Computers are used in the logistic and ordering functions of getting equipment to and around the battlefield. c) Computers are used in tanks and planes and ships to target enemy forces, help run the platform and more recently to help diagnose any problems with the platforms. d) Computers help design and test new systems.
  4. Sports: In today’s technologically growing society, computers are being used in nearly every activity such as recording information, analyzing athlete’s movement, score board e.t.c
  5. Government: Various departments of the Government use computer for their planning, control and law enforcement activities. To name a few – Traffic, Tourism, Information & Broadcasting, Education, Aviation and many others.

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