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By National Research Council, Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences, Computer Science and Telecommunications Board, Committee on the Fundamentals of Computer Science: Challenges and Opportunities

During this quantity, the Committee at the basics of machine technology defines the fundamental personality of computing device technological know-how, describes its tools and modes of study, and clarifies the character of the pc technology examine underlying details know-how breakthroughs. The 23 essays assessment the historical past of computation, abstraction, programming languages, databases, cryptography, spreadsheets, and web looking out. No index is equipped.

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Yet a third set of bits might be in an animation language that permits the motion of a sunflower to be described at a high level. The print function common across applications on most systems today, which allows a wide range of data objects to be printed on a wide range of printers, is a powerful example of abstraction. The user need not know about all the details hiding behind this simple interface—the “print” command is an abstraction that shows the user only what he or she needs to see. In each case, the bits are interpreted by a model that abstracts procedures above the actual machine instructions that a computer executes.

During the 1970s and earlier 1980s, microprocessor development focused on accelerating the execution of each instruction using bit level parallelism. Designers made changes to enable each instruction to both (a) manipulate a larger range of numbers (and symbols) and (b) perform those manipulations faster using more transistors side by side. Early microprocessors, for example, slowly performed manipulations on integers taking on one of 65,536 (216) values (or fewer). In a single instruction, a current microprocessor can rapidly transform data whose values range through billions (232) or quintrillions (264) of integer and fractional values.

One class of these activities is devoted to enabling computers to solve problems that humans can solve easily, yet that appear very difficult for machines. A human can easily pick out the presence of a sunflower in an image, and yet a computer of the early 21st century can do so only with difficulty and limited accuracy. The problems of image understanding, language understanding, locomotion, game playing, and problem solving each provide enormous challenges for the computer scientist. A second class of intelligence-related research is to understand how the human mind works by trying to solve problems the way humans do.

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