Using all its parts together, a computer converts data into information by performing various actions on the data. For example, a computer might perform a mathematical operation on two numbers, then display the result. Or the computer might perform a logical operation such as comparing two numbers, then display
that result. These operations are part of a process called the information processing cycle
, which is a set of steps the computer follows to receive data, process the
data according to instructions from a program, display the resulting information
to the user, and store the results (see Fig. 1
Fig. 1: information processing cycle
The information processing cycle has four parts, and each part involves one or
more specific components of the computer:
. During this part of the cycle, the computer accepts data from some
source, such as the user or a program, for processing.
. During this part of the cycle, the computer’s processing components perform actions on the data, based on instructions from the user or a
. Here, the computer may be required to display the results of its processing. For example, the results may appear as text, numbers, or a graphic
on the computer’s screen or as sounds from its speaker. The computer also
can send output to a printer or transfer the output to another computer
through a network or the Internet. Output is an optional step in the information processing cycle but may be ordered by the user or program.
. In this step, the computer permanently stores the results of its processing on a disk, tape, or some other kind of storage medium. As with output, storage is optional and may not always be required by the user or program.