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ICT

Computer control

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A control system typically comprises of a computer or microprocessor [microprocessor: an integrated circuit that contains all or most of the individual elements of a central processing unit (CPU) ], a control program [program: a list of instructions written in a programming language ] which handles data [data: information without context, eg a list of students with numbers beside their names is data, when it's made clear that those numbers represent their placing in a 100 metre race, the data becomes information ] from sensors [sensor: an automatic input device that continuously monitors a set of computer controlled parameters, eg a parking sensor detects how close a vehicle is to the nearest object and alerts the driver if the distance falls outside of the specified parameters ] and sends signals to output devices [output device: a device used to output data or information from a computer, eg a monitor, printer or speakers ] and an interface box to convert signals between the sensors and the processor [processor: shorthand for central processing unit (CPU) ].

The role of computers in control

  • Computers can respond very rapidly to change.
  • Systems can run 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
  • Control systems can operate in places that humans would find dangerous or awkward.
  • Outputs [output: the term denoting either an exit or changes which exit a system and which activate/modify a process ] are consistent and error free.
  • Computers can process data quickly and machines can operate faster than humans.

Computers are now used to control many types of devices such as:

  • air conditioning and central heating systems in large buildings
  • security systems and burglar alarms
  • manufacturing processes
  • traffic lights and pedestrian crossings

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