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Representing and manipulating data in computers

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Computers are all around us: in cars, kitchen scales, digital cameras, etc. But how do they store the data they hold? This free course, Representing and manipulating data in computers, will help you to understand how the data in a computer represents something in the outside world. You will also explore how ASCII code and Unicode are used to control data.

After studying this unit you will:

  • know what all the terms highlighted in bold in the text mean;
  • know how the following types of data are represented in a computer, and what the limitations of such representations are: positive and negative integers; fractions; analogue physical quantities such as weight; true/false quantities; still pictures; text; moving pictures; sound;
  • know, at an introductory level, what data compression is and why it is useful;
  • know, at an introductory level, how input and output subsystems support the conversion of various types of information to and from data types usable by a computer;
  • describe what a computer program is and how it utilises the memory and the processor;
  • use a flowchart to describe the implementation of a given task;
  • perform calculations relating to file sizes for text, still images, moving images and sound;
  • convert between binary and denary representations for both positive and negative integers;
  • perform simple arithmetic operations on pairs of 8-bit binary numbers;
  • find the 2’s complement of a given binary number;
  • perform the NOT operation on 8-bit binary codes, and the AND, OR and XOR logic operations on pairs of 8-bit binary codes.

By: The Open University

  • Duration 20 hours
  • Updated Wednesday 10th October 2012
  • Intermediate level
  • Posted under Computing
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Representing and manipulating data in computers


Unit image

Computers are designed to receive, store, manipulate and present data. This unit explains how computers do this, with reference to the examples of a PC, kitchen scales and a digital camera. In particular it explores the idea that the data in a computer represents something in the real world.

This unit is from our archive and is an adapted extract from Computers and processors (T224) which is no longer taught by The Open University. If you want to study formally with us, you may wish to explore other courses we offer in this subject area [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .

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