How Do Computers Work? Understanding the Matrix World.

Yagmur Sahin

Crazy Simple Computer Science Series/1

How are you get along with technology? Today we all know more or less how to use computers and smartphones. But sometimes, we press a button, and things happen that we don't understand.

Or we know something called coding, but is there someone who actually codes everything we see on the internet today? Moreover, how does the computer detect and analyze the commands we give? How does the computer communicate with us and the internet network?

Let's look to the core of the matter, what happens inside the computer box, namely the hardware.

Although it may seem complicated, computers work on a simple principle. With On-Off switches, it means 0 and 1's.
Riku Lu/Unsplash

We’ve sort of implicitly agreed that we’ll represent our words in this particular language because I write in English and you comprehend English. Computers no longer use English; instead, they have their own system, with which you may be familiar even if you don’t speak it yourself, and there are other ways to express information.

Consider the simplest of challenges, such as counting the number of individuals in a room. This is something I could accomplish the old-fashioned way. I don’t need computers or English; I can simply use my physical hand and say, “I’m starting with zero people and now I’ll count one, two, three, four, five, and then — I’m out of fingers, but I can at least use my other hand, maybe a couple of feet and get as high as 10, maybe even 20 using this physical system.” Actually, this is pretty much the same as keeping score of the old-fashioned method with hash marks.

So we can see that to computers to count in this way, each number must have a bit of memory space. That seems impossible when you look at the phone's small size in your hand. Doesn't it?

Therefore, I approach the question from a different angle and say:

Why don’t I start with some patterns instead of counting up from 0 to 1 to 2 to 3 to 4 to 5?

So, I’ll start with 0 and 1, but now, let’s call it binary notation, where we’re actually considering the pattern. They can be either up or down, or just one of them can be up or down, or just one of them can be up or down.

So, if that’s the only option, it’s easy to picture whether you have your computer plugged in or not, whether electricity is flowing or not, whether you have a charge in your battery or not. As a result, this binary world, in which something can be in one of two states — on or off, plugged in or not —1 or 0 — is ideal for employing binary to represent information in computers. After all, I could just flip on the lights to symbolize a number. So, my phone has a light built in, and that light is currently turned off, but if I deem this to be turned off, we’ll call it a 0.

Binary Notation and Transistors

If I switch on this flashlight, I’ll be portraying a 1. I can represent two different values with a simple light bulb. Computers, on the other hand, don’t necessarily rely on a slew of tiny light bulbs; instead, they rely on a device known as a transistor. A transistor is a tiny little switch that may be turned on or off, allowing or preventing the flow of electricity. So, when you have a computer with a motherboard, CPU, and a bunch of other gear inside of it, one of the underlying components is these things called transistors.
Transistors/ Pixaby-Pexels

And today’s computers include millions of them, each of which can be turned on or off and this is how a computer represents information. It can utilize that electricity to turn these switches on and off in distinct patterns as long as it has access to some physical supply of electricity, thereby indicating 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, , or even millions, billions, or beyond.

Meanwhile, we humans prefer to communicate not just in English and other spoken languages, but also in decimal numbers. So decimal, which means ten, has ten digits: 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, whereas binary only has two: 0 and 1.

So, we’ll need the means to convert these 0s and 1s into numbers that we’re more comfortable with. So, what’s the best way to go about it?

Stay tuned if you want to read Crazy Simple Computer Science Series/2- Binary to Numbers/Binary to Symbols! :)

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I write about the best places to visit in California and the latest entertainment and technology news. Information Security Engineer/Travel Guide

Los Angeles County, CA

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