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Computation is any type of calculation or use of computing technology in information processing. Computation is a process following 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.
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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).
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.
- State models including Turing machine, push-down automaton, finite state automaton, and PRAM
- Functional models including lambda calculus
- Logical models including logic programming
- Concurrent models including actor model and process calculi
The word computation has an archaic meaning (from its Latin etymological roots), but the word has come back in use with the arising of a new scientific discipline: computer science.
Comparison to calculation
- Computation from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary