Skip to content
Skip to main content

About this free course

Download this course

Share this free course

Crossing the boundary: analogue universe, digital worlds
Crossing the boundary: analogue universe, digital worlds

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

3.6 A world of numbers

Although we may not all enjoy it, using numbers to count and do arithmetic seems to be a natural human activity. For computers, however, there is nothing but numbers. They were designed from the first to handle numbers and that is still all they do. The cleverness of modern software may make it appear that they do much more, but this is an illusion. The interior world of the computer, the territory inside the boundary, is a world of numbers and nothing else.

Some of you may have gone into the details of how numbers are represented and manipulated; others may have gratefully left the subject behind as soon as possible. But in this subsection I want to say a little about the systems used for working with numbers, and to bring out the very different ways in which humans and computers do the same things.