Unit 6: How Computers Work

6.1.01: analog vs. digital

Digital and analog are opposites. Digital means information that is represented as ones and zeros. Analog means information that is represented by signals that vary continuously (that is, including in-between values).

6.1.04: Software Libraries
AAP-3.D.1, AAP-3.D.2, AAP-3.D.3

Machine language is the lowest-level programming language; it is directly understood by the computer hardware.

Architecture is an abstraction, a specification of the machine language. It also tells how the processor connects to the memory. It doesn't specify the circuitry; the same architecture can be built as circuitry in many different ways.


An integrated circuit ("IC" or "chip") is a single physical device that contains millions or billions of basic electrical parts. A processor is an IC, but not all processors are IC; there are also special-purpose chips inside a computer.