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Digital computers calculate by manipulating binary digits (**bit**s; ones and zeroes). Because bits are so simple to handle they can be made easily to stand for almost anything; hence the general usefulness of digital computers. Bits can symbolize words, instructions, laws of logic or of physics, numerical measurements, recorded images and sounds--anything that can be written down. In using a digital computer to solve a mathematical equation, for example, certain bits inside the computer are arranged to symbolize the **constants** and **variable**s in the equation and others are arranged to symbolize the mathematical rules for manipulating those constants and variables. When the computer runs, it applies the rules to the variables just as a person would, only faster.

There is another quite different way to solve an equation: instead of *symbolizing* an equation, one can set up an experiment in which certain physical quantities...

This section contains 1,020 words(approx. 4 pages at 300 words per page) |