A computer network is a group of interconnected computers. Networks may be classified according to a wide variety of characteristics. This article provides a general overview of some types and categories and also presents the basic components of a network.
Interconnectivity is a concept that is used in numerous fields such as cybernetics, biology, ecology, network theory, and non-linear dynamics. The concept can be summarized as that all parts of a system interact with and rely on one another simply by the fact that they occupy the same system, and that a system is difficult or sometimes impossible to analyze through its individual parts considered alone. The concept is closely linked to the Observer effect and the butterfly effect. It is often linked to the concepts of interconnectedness which is used to refer to the spiritual, and interdependence which refers to the moral, rather than physical or scientific.
A computer is a machine that manipulates data according to a set of instructions.
Although mechanical examples of computers have existed through much of recorded human history, the first electronic computers were developed in the mid-20th century (1940–1945). These were the size of a large room, consuming as much power as several hundred modern personal computers (PCs). Modern computers based on integrated circuits are millions to billions of times more capable than the early machines, and occupy a fraction of the space. Simple computers are small enough to fit into a wristwatch, and can be powered by a watch battery. Personal computers in their various forms are icons of the Information Age and are what most people think of as “computers”. The embedded computers found in many devices from MP3 players to fighter aircraft and from toys to industrial robots are however the most numerous.
The ability to store and execute lists of instructions called programs makes computers extremely versatile, distinguishing them from calculators. The Church–Turing thesis is a mathematical statement of this versatility: any computer with a certain minimum capability is, in principle, capable of performing the same tasks that any other computer can perform. Therefore computers ranging from a mobile phone to a supercomputer are all able to perform the same computational tasks, given enough time and storage capacity.
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