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AS Computing CPT1

1. Fundamentals of Computer Systems

Hardware: The physical components that make up the computer.

Software: The programs of sequences of instruction, which run on the


The processor has the following functions (fetch-execute cycle):

1. Fetches the next instruction from the main memory;

2. Decodes the fetched instruction;
3. Executes the decoded instruction.

SYSTEMS SOFTWARE – An interface between the user and the computer; Performs
tasks needed to run the computer.

Operating System – Interface between the user and the computer; a virtual

Utility Program -
E.g. virus scanner, disk formatter, backup program.

Library Programs - Previously written program code; program files which are
used by other/many applications.

Compilers, assemblers, interpreters – See below.

APPLICATION SOFTWARE – a program written to perform an end user task, which is

primary independent of the computer.

General Purpose Application Software – Software that can be made to do

many different tasks.
E.g. word processor, spreadsheet, database, desktop publishing, computer-aided
design and presentation packages.

Special Purpose Application Software – Software to perform a specific task.

E.g. payroll, account and stock control system.

Bespoke Software – Software written to the specification of a particular

organisation or customer.
E.g. a unique database management system.

Integrated Package – A single piece of software.

Bit (BInary digiT) – 1 or 0

8 Bits = Byte = One Character

Word Size – The numbers of bits a CPU can address/transfer/process at the

same time, most computers are 32 or 64 bit.
Bus Size – The number of bits that can be transmitted together.

2. Fundamentals of Programming
Assembler – Translates assembly code into machine code.

Complier – Translates the whole high level language source code into object
code. USE: finish development; software shipped to user. REASON: speed of

Interpreter – Translates one line at a time and then executes it. USE: software
under development. REASON: debugging tools.

Advantages of Compliers over Interpreters:

• The object code can be saved on disk and run whenever required, without
the need to recompile.
• The object code executes faster than interpreted code.
• The object code produced by a complier can be distributed or executed
without having the complier present.
• The object code is more secure, as it cannot be read without a great deal
of “reverse engineering”.

Advantages of Interpreters over Compliers:

• It is useful for program development, as there is no need for lengthy

recompilation each time an error is discovered.
• It is easier to partially test and debug programs.
• Unlike a complier, if a bug or error is found the program does not have to
be recompiled again as no object code is created.

A Function is always returns a value; part of an expression. A Procedure does

not have to return a value; not part of an expression.

Imperative – Computer executes instructions in a programmer defined


3. Fundamentals of Information and Data

Data – Raw facts and figures.

Information - Data that has been processed and given a context.

Sampling Resolution – The number of bits used to store one sound sample.

Sampling Rate - The frequency at which samples are taken.

Pixel (Picture Element) – The smallest resolvable rectangular area of and

4. Communication and Networking
Serial Data Transmission – Bits are sent one after the other; along a single

Parallel Data Transmission – Several bits are sent at the same time; down
several wires.

Baud Rate – The rate at which the signal changes.

Bit Rate – The number of bits per second.

Bandwidth – The range of frequencies that a medium can correctly transmit.

Higher the bandwidth, higher the bit rate.

Asynchronous Transmission – One character at a time is sent, with each

character being preceded by a start bit and followed by one or two start bits.

Parity Bit – Used to check against incorrect transmission.

Handshaking – The sender and receiver are both ready before transmission.

Protocol – A set of rules relating to communication between devices.

Local Area Network (LAN) – Connects computers in a small geographic area.

Network Interface Card (NIC).

Wide Area Network (WAN) – Connects geographically remote computers of


Internet – World-wide collections of computers using the Internet Protocol.

Intranet – LAN providing Internet facilities within an organisation using the

Internet Protocol.

HTTP – Hypertext Transfer Protocol

URL – Uniform Resource Locator

Leased Line Networking – A dedicated line connecting geographically remote

computer systems is permanently on.

Dial-up Networking – using a telephone line to connect to a network as


Domain Name – User friendly reference that maps to an IP address.

IP Address – Numerical address use to identify an individual computer.