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.

Free course

Crossing the boundary - analogue universe, digital worlds

2.4 The pervasive computer

We can start with a simple proposition:

The computer's job is to acquire, store, present, control, exchange and manipulate interesting characteristics of the natural world.

So what are ‘interesting characteristics of the natural world‘? Obviously that depends on your point of view. An ordinary tourist might want to capture a memory of some scene she was experiencing – moonlight on the Acropolis, or the majesty of the Grand Canyon, for instance. A scientist might be interested in the colour and intensity of light from a distant galaxy. An engineer might want to focus on the pattern of forces operating on a bridge. A graphic artist, contemplating the same bridge, would be more concerned with its shape, outline and colouring, while an accountant would focus on the bridge's cost. We all extract from our experience the features that most concern us. For this, the computer is a particularly powerful tool.

Now let's look in a little more detail at what we want the computer to do with these interesting characteristics of the world.

M150_1

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371