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Old 01-31-2010, 05:16 PM   #1
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Default What do adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing do for a computer?

What do adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing do for a computer? Or, how does a computer use them?
I know the calculator application uses them, but I think that a computer also uses them for general operation. Am I right? Does a computer use math to run a program; save something; boot an operating system? And if it does, do you know how?

Could you give me some specific examples of how it would be used. So let's say there is an algorithm for saving a document, how does math factor into this command? Or does it? I know the actual text in the program contains no math but does the computer use math somehow to carry out the command?
I'm not sure if that is terribly clear, I really want to know how math is used, not just that it is.

Does anyone have a specific example? Does anyone have an example of where the comp. uses one, or more, of the arithmetic operations to complete a task?
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Old 01-31-2010, 05:43 PM   #2
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Default Re: What do adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing do for a computer?

There's lots of examples around - and yes, maths does factor into a lot of operations computers do. Saving a document is a bit of a broad area, but you'd most likely have operations going on in the filesystem to calculate where to place the file, operations to work out how much of the file needs to be fragmented (if any), the size of the file, updating the remainding disk space left - that sort of thing.

Lots of other things use it as well - physics in games for example all boils down to lots of maths that needs to be done very quickly. 3D graphics deal heavily in matrix multiplication to change viewing angles. Even simple counters for say fading, working out uptime and that sort of thing work by addition operations that increment the counter.

That's just a few I pulled off the top of my head - but yes, computers use maths through and through, all the time at lots of levels. It's definitely not just something used in calculator applications!
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Old 01-31-2010, 05:53 PM   #3
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Default Re: What do adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing do for a computer?

Thanks for the reply. Can anyone give any more specific examples of when / how a computer uses math?
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