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.

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