The defining feature of modern computers which distinguishes them from all other machines is that they can be programmed. That is to say that some type of instructions (the program) can be given to the computer, and it will process them. Modern computers based on the von Neumann architecture often have machine code in the form of an imperative programming language.
In practical terms, a computer program may be just a few instructions or extend to many millions of instructions, as do the programs for word processors and web browsers for example. A typical modern computer can execute billions of instructions per second (gigaflops) and rarely makes a mistake over many years of operation. Large computer programs consisting of several million instructions may take teams of programmers years to write, and due to the complexity of the task almost certainly contain errors.
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Famous quotes containing the word programs:
“Will TV kill the theater? If the programs I have seen, save for Kukla, Fran and Ollie, the ball games and the fights, are any criterion, the theater need not wake up in a cold sweat.”
—Tallulah Bankhead (19031968)
“[The Republicans] offer ... a detailed agenda for national renewal.... [On] reducing illegitimacy ... the state will use ... funds for programs to reduce out-of-wedlock pregnancies, to promote adoption, to establish and operate childrens group homes, to establish and operate residential group homes for unwed mothers, or for any purpose the state deems appropriate. None of the taxpayer funds may be used for abortion services or abortion counseling.”
—Newt Gingrich (b. 1943)
“Short of a wholesale reform of college athleticsa complete breakdown of the whole system that is now focused on money and powerthe womens programs are just as doomed as the mens are to move further and further away from the academic mission of their colleges.... We have to decide if thats the kind of success for womens sports that we want.”
—Christine H. B. Grant, U.S. university athletic director. As quoted in the Chronicle of Higher Education, p. A42 (May 12, 1993)