World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article


Computation is any type of calculation[1][2] that follows a well-defined model understood and expressed as, for example, an algorithm, or a protocol.

The study of computation is paramount to the discipline of computer science.


  • Classification 1
    • Comparison to calculation 1.1
  • Physical phenomenon 2
  • Mathematical models 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5


Computation can be classified by mainly three unique criteria: digital versus analog, sequential versus parallel versus concurrent, batch versus interactive.

In practice, digital computation aids simulation of natural processes (for example, evolutionary computation), including those that are naturally described by analog models of computation (for example, artificial neural network).

Comparison to calculation

Calculation is a term for the computation of numbers, while computation is a wider reaching term for information processing in general.

Physical phenomenon

A computation can be seen as a purely physical phenomenon occurring inside a closed physical system called a computer. Examples of such physical systems include digital computers, mechanical computers, quantum computers, DNA computers, molecular computers, analog computers or wetware computers. This point of view is the one adopted by the branch of theoretical physics called the physics of computation.

An even more radical point of view is the postulate of digital physics that the evolution of the universe itself is a computation - pancomputationalism.

Mathematical models

In the theory of computation, a diversity of mathematical models of computers have been developed. Typical mathematical models of computers are the following:

See also


  1. ^ Computation from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary
  2. ^
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.