machine vs. computer

Sep 2018
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What the difference between computer to machine?
 
Jun 2016
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A computer is just a particular type of machine.

It is (at its most basic) just a huge number of switches (many billions)
The key to their power is the almost unbelievable levels of miniaturisation
that allows these billions of switches to be packaged in a sensible space
and the impressive speed at which they can be (electrically) switched.

It would be theoretically possible to build a purely mechanical computer,
but the size would be prohibitively vast (of the order of the size of the moon)
and the speed would be prohibitively slow (a couple of millennia for the windows start-up).
 
Apr 2017
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The definition of machine I have in my head is "a device that does mechanical work"

Searching I find that's pretty close ..." : an instrument (such as a lever) designed to transmit or modify the application of power, ..."

Definitely a machine plays with energy ....Joules ...

A computer should not necessarily need energy ... Does it require the expenditure of energy to compute 1+1 ??? ... there's no law of physics that says so ....

The first computers were machines with cogs and gears...

The ones we have now are less like machines and require much less energy ...

So a computer is not (need not be) a machine ...

A computer manipulates Data ......... A Machine manipulates Energy
 
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Does it require the expenditure of energy to compute 1+1 ??? ... there's no law of physics that says so ....
Actually there is.
I can't say I know the details, but I'm pretty sure that information theory does require the use of energy to store and manipulate data.
 
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I admit am pulling together a few bits and pieces from articles I have read
(rather than a deep understanding of the subject) to make my statement.

One is the resolution of the "Maxwell's Demon" paradox.
The energy required by the demon to process information (of which particles are hot and which are cold) solves the paradox.

Another piece of evidence is the "firewall paradox" caused by the energy associated with the information lost as things fall into a block hole.

I am sure I have come across other articles which link information and energy,
I just can't bring any other specific examples to mind.
 
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ChipB

PHF Helper
Jun 2010
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I think Woody is corerect. Consider the change in entropy when a mechanical device performs the function of adding 1+1. The mechanism must be transformed from a collection of gears and levers in a random state to one that is very specific (i.e. ordered) for that particular problem. This means its entropy is decreased, which requires energy to be expended.
 
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topsquark

Forum Staff
Apr 2008
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On the dance floor, baby!
I admit am pulling together a few bits and pieces from articles I have read
(rather than a deep understanding of the subject) to make my statement.

One is the resolution of the "Maxwell's Demon" paradox.
The energy required by the demon to process information (of which particles are hot and which are cold) solves the paradox.

Another piece of evidence is the "firewall paradox" caused by the energy associated with the information lost as things fall into a block hole.

I am sure I have come across other articles which link information and energy,
I just can't bring any other specific examples to mind.
I don't know much about Information Theory but I do know that there is a change in the entropy of the system depending on what happens to the "information" contained in a system. If the change in the amount of data can alter the entropy then the system should follow the laws of Thermodynamics. So the internal energy of the system might be able to change.

-Dan