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:
“Although good early childhood programs can benefit all children, they are not a quick fix for all of societys illsfrom crime in the streets to adolescent pregnancy, from school failure to unemployment. We must emphasize that good quality early childhood programs can help change the social and educational outcomes for many children, but they are not a panacea; they cannot ameliorate the effects of all harmful social and psychological environments.”
—Barbara Bowman (20th century)
“Government ... thought [it] could transform the country through massive national programs, but often the programs did not work. Too often they only made things worse. In our rush to accomplish great deeds quickly, we trampled on sound principles of restraint and endangered the rights of individuals.”
—Gerald R. Ford (b. 1913)
“Whether in the field of health, education or welfare, I have put my emphasis on preventive rather than curative programs and tried to influence our elaborate, costly and ill- co-ordinated welfare organizations in that direction. Unfortunately the momentum of social work is still directed toward compensating the victims of our society for its injustices rather than eliminating those injustices.”
—Agnes E. Meyer (18871970)