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The word computer can be defined in many ways and can also take many different meanings; a somewhat common definition may be this: computer is a machine that automatically performs mathematical computations. We can also see it as a machine for processing information or, very generally, as any tool that helps computation, in which case one's fingers or even a mathematical formula itself can be considered a computer. Here we are of course mostly concerned with electronic digital computers.

We can divide computers based on many attributes, e.g.:

Computers are theoretically studied by computer science. The kind of computer we normally talk about consists of two main parts:

The power of computers is limited, Alan Turing mathematically proved that there exist problems that can never be completely solved by any algorithm, i.e. there are problems a computer (including our brain) will never be able to solve (even if solution exists). This is related to the fact that the power of mathematics itself is limited in a similar way (see Godel's theorems). Turing also invented the theoretical model of a computer called the Turing machine. Besides the mentioned theoretical limitation, many solvable problems may take too long to compute, at least with computers we currently know (see computational complexity and P vs NP).

Typical Computer

Computers we normally talk about in daily conversations are electronic digital mostly personal computers such as desktops and laptops, possibly also cell phones, tablets etc.

Such a computer consists of some kind of case (chassis), internal hardware plus peripheral devices that serve for input and output -- these are for example a keyboard and mouse (input devices), a monitor (output device) or harddisk (input/output device). The internals of the computer normally include:

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