Computer Continuum, The

Prentice Hall
Kurt F. Lauckner  
Prentice Hall
Total pages
September 2009

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Computer Continuum, The
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In most of the sciences, introductory college courses focus on concepts rather than their practical application, with the latter reserved for more advanced study. An exception to this has been the fields of information systems and computer science, in which instruction has tended to focus directly on the tools of the trade, such as the technical aspects of word processing, spreadsheets, and databases. The philosophy of The Computer Continuum, however,is to concentrate on the concepts of information systems and computer science, such as data representation, operating systems, programming languages, and algorithms.

While each chapter includes sections on software applications, and laboratory manuals are available to go with the text, the “concepts approach” of The Computer Continuum gives it a value that will last well beyond the current generation of computer tools. It builds a lasting foundation of fundamental concepts to prepare graduates for the future.


New to this Edition


The revisions to The Computer Continuum, Fifth Edition, are reflections of the recent changes to our society and to computer technology as well as from current users.
Content Changes
  • Now includes updated content in use of smart phones and wireless networks
  • The use of abbreviations to the new pop culture usage of abbreviations for text messaging.
  • Discussion of Unicode and hardware updates.
  • The move from floppies to USB storage devices, and the recent updates in CPUs and operating systems including Vista, and the Macintosh 10.5 operating systems.
  • Changes that have occurred in the networking concepts including discussions of cloud computing.
  • Hollywood screen star Hedy Lamarr's patented contribution to wireless communication network
  • New discussions of social networking and cloud computing, with updated discussion of e-commerce.
  • Chapter 9, now 'Personal Security and Privacy,' has been moved up from chapter 14 to a more natural placement following Networking, which includes the Internet, and the World Wide Web chapters. Chapter 9 has been updated with information about new threats on security and privacy and includes current methods of guarding our safety and the safety of our computers.
  • Includes an expanded discussion of streaming media as well as a new section on the copyright ownership of images found on the Web and of ownership of images taken by the photographer. Education fair use of images is also discussed. Also included in chapter 10 is an updated discussion of digital television, a comparison of HD DVD and Blu-ray technology, and the current state of speech recognition with comparisons of the speech recognition capabilities of Microsoft Word, the inclusion of speech recognition as a part of the Vista operating system, and the speech to text translation of digital audio recorders using Dragon Naturally Speaking
  • Includes a new section on protein folding. The section explains how simulation is used to explore the structure of DNA and how computers are used world wide to assist in new discoveries via a distributed network. A game-like simulator is discussed showing the basic structures of DNA.
  • Comes with WebCT Vista and Blackboard 8 for January 2010

Table of Contents


Preliminaries: Where We’re Going

CHAPTER 1 Computers: A First Look

1.1 Beyond the Computer Invasion

A Day in the 21st Century • TECH TALK: Current Dictionaries Reveal the Pervasiveness of Computers

1.2 What Is (and Isn’t) a Computer?

Examples from History • Scales and Calculators • VOICES FROM THE PAST: Stonehenge–The First Computer? • Wireless Communication and Network Access • Computers Large and Small

1.3 The Many Kinds of Computers

General-Purpose versus Special-Purpose Computers • Digital versus Analog Computers • THE CUTTING EDGE: Biological Computers–Using DNA

1.4 The General-Purpose Electronic Digital Computer


CHAPTER 2 Metamorphosis of Information

2.1 What Is Information?

VOICES FROM THE PAST: Claude E. Shannon–A Theory of Communication

2.2 Representation of Numbers

TECH TALK: A Serious Conversion Problem

2.3 Representation of Symbols and Text

2.4 Representation of Images

TECH TALK: An Intergalactic Message

2.5 Representation of Sounds, Music, and Speech

Representation of Simple Musical Sounds • Representing Music Using MIDI • Representation of Any Sound by Digital Recording • Representing Speech

2.6 Representing the Instructions of Programs

The Word Hunt Instruction Set • About Computer Instructions • THE CUTTING EDGE: Representation of the Human Genome

CHAPTER 3 Computer Hardware Components: CPU, Memory, and I/O

3.1 Basic Concepts of Computer Hardware

3.2 Sources of Data for the Computer

3.3 Input Devices

Connecting Hardware to the Computer • Common Technologies for Storing Binary Information • Secondary Memory Input Devices • Speed and Access Time • Cost/Removable versus Nonremovable Capacity • Type of Access

3.4 Primary Memory

3.5 The Central Processing Unit

Arithmetic Unit of the CPU • Control Unit of the CPU • Instruction Decoding Unit of the CPU • TECH TALK: Fetch/Execute and the Clock

3.6 Output Devices

Floppy Disk Drives and Hard Drives • Display Monitors • Audio Output Devices • Optical Disks: CD-ROM and DVD • Storage Capacity • Storage Devices of the Future

3.7 Moving Information within the Computer

3.8 Categories of Computers

VOICES FROM THE PAST: The Father of the Electronic Digital Computer • Calculator • Palmtop Computer • Microcomputer • THE CUTTING EDGE: Quantum Computers • Workstation and Minicomputer • Mainframe Computer • Supercomputer

CHAPTER 4 Computer Languages, Algorithms, and Program Development

4.1 Communicating with a Computer

4.2 The Role of Languages in Communication

Semantics (Meaning) • Syntax (Form) • Participants

4.3 The Program Language Continuum

In the Beginning . . . • Machine Code–The First Generation • Assembly Language–The Second Generation • VOICES FROM THE PAST: Amazing Grace • People-Oriented Programs–The Third Generation • Nonprocedural Languages–The Fourth Generation • Object-Oriented Programming • Is There a Fifth Generation?

4.4 Assembled, Compiled, or Interpreted Languages

4.5 Programming for Everyone

Using Macros • Using HTML to Create Web Pages • Scripting

4.6 Building a Program

The First Step: Understanding the Problem • Developing the Algorithm • Writing the Program • Documenting the Program • Testing and Debugging the Program • TECH TALK: Introducing Java–A Software System for Online Multimedia

4.7 Software Development: A Broader View

THE CUTTING EDGE: Software-Defined Hardware

CHAPTER 5 Hardware and Software: Putting It Together

5.1 Reviewing Key Concepts

5.2 Two Conceptual Computers

5.3 The ROBOT Computer: Programs and Algorithms

The Robot’s Domain • VOICES FROM THE PAST: John von Neumann • Hardware–Defining ROBOT Capabilities • External Hardware Features • ROBOT Characteristics • THE CUTTING EDGE: Robots by the Dozen • Software–The ROBOT’s Language • ROBOT Programs • Using the ROBOT • Getting the ROBOT Out of a Loop

5.4 The Pencil and Paper Computer

Input and Output Units • Memory • Central Processing Unit (CPU) • The Pencil and Paper Computer Instruction Set • TECH TALK: Plug and Play • Loading and Executing a Pencil and Paper Program • A Final Example

CHAPTER 6 Operating Systems: The Genie in the Computer

6.1 What Is an Operating System?

Computers without Operating Systems • BIOS (Basic Input/Output System)

6.2 Booting the Computer

Cold Boot • Warm Boot • Booting with Multiple Operating Systems

6.3 User Interfaces

The Graphical User Interface (GUI) • Command-Line Interface • UNIX and Linux • TECH TALK: UNIX–Operating System of Choice for Professionals

6.4 Files and File Management

Naming Files • The Hierarchical File Structure

6.5 Input and Output of Information

General Issues in Processing Files • Device Drivers

6.6 Memory Limitations: Cache and Virtual Memory

Cache Memory • Primary/Secondary Memory Cache • RAM Cache Memory Virtual Memory

6.7 Context Switching and Multitasking

Context Switching • VOICES FROM THE PAST: Multics, the Granddaddy of Operating Systems • Multitasking

6.8 Operating Systems for the Networked World

Parallel Processing • Networks and Distributed Processing • THE CUTTING EDGE: Distributed Processing and Operating Systems • Real Time and Process Control

CHAPTER 7 Network Concepts and Communications

7.1 Introduction: 'Everything Is Connected to Everything'

7.2 Communication Basics of Networks

Types of Connections–Physical Connection versus Wireless • Physical Network Links • Wireless Network Links • Properties of Transmission • Type of Signal • Speed of Signal • Type of Data Movement on the Link • Method of Transmission • Single-Channel versus Multichannel Transmission

7.3 The Physical Organization of Networks

Linking Computers Together–Direct-Connect Networks • Networks on Different Scales • Desk Area Networks • Local Area Networks • VOICES FROM THE PAST: Computer Networks–The Beginning • Metropolitan Area Networks • Wide Area Networks

7.4 Software Architecture of the Network

The Rules of Operation: Protocols of a Network • The Architecture of the Internet • TECH TALK: TCP/IP and Application Ports • Client/Server Model • Other Hardware Necessary for Networks

7.5 Firewalls

THE CUTTING EDGE: The Maturing of the Client/Server Model


CHAPTER 8 The Internet and the Web: Worldwide Transformation

8.1 A Powerful Voice

8.2 The Internet: Struggling to Maturity

8.3 The Internet: Early User Interfaces

Before the World Wide Web

8.4 Using Today’s Internet

E-Mail • Peer-to-Peer File Sharing • Usenet and Listservs • THE CUTTING EDGE: Internet2 and the Evolving National LambdaRail • Chatrooms and Instant Messaging

8.5 The World Wide Web: Internet’s Most Common Access

Who Owns the Web?

8.6 Navigating the Web

VOICES FROM THE PAST: Vannevar Bush (1890—1974)–An Enigma • Hypertext, Hypermedia, and Hot Links

8.7 Understanding Web Addresses (URLs)

8.8 The Web and You

Accessing the Web (Internet Service Providers) • Surfing the Web • TECH TALK: The Deep Web • Downloading Software • Free Downloads • Shareware • Creating a Web Presence

8.9 The New Web Presence: Blogs

8.10 The Web in Business: The Growth of E-Commerce

Paying for E-Commerce Purchases • Privacy and Consumer Profiling

8.11 Software Applications: Search Engines

What Are Search Engines and How Do They Work? • Using a Search Engine Effectively

CHAPTER 9 Multimedia

9.1 What Is Multimedia?

9.2 Visual Media: Manipulating Images

Processing Existing Digital Images • TECH TALK: Graphics Formats from GIF to JPEG • Image Enhancement • Image Restoration

9.3 Visual Media: Creating Images

Creating Line Images • Vector versus Raster Graphics • Solid Forms to 3D • TECH TALK: Diplodocuses of the Jurassic in 3D

9.4 Visual Media: Animation and Video

Traditional Animation • VOICES FROM THE PAST: Ivan Sutherland–Computer Graphics Guru • Special Effects and Morphing • Digitizing and Manipulating Video • Basic Video Concepts • Common CODECs • DVD, the Digital Versatile Disc • Digital Video Players • Streaming Media

9.5 Audio Media: Human Speech

Recorded Speech • Speech Synthesis: Making a Computer Speak • Recognizing Spoken Words • The Voiceprint • Recognizing Disjointed Speech • Recognizing Continuous Speech

9.6 Audio Media: Music

The Computer and Recorded Music • Compact Disc Technology • Digital Versatile Disc (DVD) • MP3 Compressed Music • Recorded Audio Forms and Formats • Size and Quality of Sound Files • Sound File Formats • Hardware and Software Needs • MIDI: A Revolution in Music • Using MIDI Instruments • Using a Sequencer

9.7 Software Applications: Internet Music and Audio

Streaming Audio • Sound Files • MIDI Files • THE CUTTING EDGE: Convergence

CHAPTER 10 Databases: Controlling the Information Deluge

10.1 Introduction: Information Overload

10.2 The Technology for Data Collection

In the Beginning There Was Nothing • Mark-Sensor Data Collection Sheets • Remote Electronic Data Sensing • TECH TALK: Collecting Data from Earth’s Surface: A Satellite Update • Bar Codes • Data Probe Tools • Voice Recognition Data Entry • Online Interactive Data Entry

10.3 Retrieving Data

FBI Fingerprint Processing: A Study in Data Retrieval • Historical Handling of Fingerprint Data • Visualization of Information from Databases • THE CUTTING EDGE: Biometrics–The New Wave of Identification • Population Growth • Knee Noises • Heart Blood Flow

10.4 The Role of Statistics: Transforming Data into Information

Percents • Probability • Importance of Probability and Percents • Selecting Data for Statistical Analysis • Correlation

10.5 Creating a Custom Database

Database Structure and Design • VOICES FROM THE PAST: E. F. Codd and the Relational Database • Using a Relational Database System • Data Marts, Data

Warehouses, and Data Mining • Database Advantages • Ethical Hazards of Database Systems • Misrepresentation of Data • Invasion of Privacy

10.6 Software Applications: Web-Database Connectivity

What Is Web-Database Connectivity? • Key Advantages of Web-Database Connectivity • Getting Started • Oracle WebDB: An Integrated Solution

CHAPTER 11 Simulation: Modeling the Physical World

11.1 Reasons for Simulation

Forecasting or Predicting the Future • TECH TALK: Monte Carlo Simulation • Accessing the Inaccessible or Impossible • Experimentation and Testing • VOICES FROM THE PAST: Herbert A. Simon–Simulating Human Cognition • Education and Training

11.2 Building a Model

11.3 Monopoly Game Simulation

Programming Getting Out of Jail • Probabilities of the Game • Developing a Winning Strategy

11.4 SimCity: Simulation of City Planning

Overview of SimCity • Planning Details in a Feedback Environment • Strategies and the Model

11.5 Design and Implementation of Computer Simulations

Simulation Languages and Modeling Systems

11.6 Virtual Reality

Fundamentals of Virtual Reality • CAVE Automatic Virtual Environment • Virtual Surgery: A Use of Virtual Reality

11.7 Software Applications: Electronic Spreadsheets as Simulation Tools

Continuous Simulation Model • Probabilistic Simulation Model • Simulation Model with Feedback • THE CUTTING EDGE: MOOs (MUDs Object Oriented)



CHAPTER 12 Artificial Intelligence and Modeling the Human State

12.1 What Is Intelligence: Artificial or Not?

12.2 Modeling Human Intelligence

Modeling the Human Knowledge System • VOICES FROM THE PAST: Marvin Minsky–A Leader in AI • Knowledge Acquisition • Knowledge Retrieval by Searching • Brute-Force Search–Looking at Every Possibility • Heuristic Searching • Reasoning • Learning Systems • Common Sense

12.3 Natural Language Communication

ELIZA: An Experiment in Communication • Semantic Translation Problems

12.4 Expert Systems

Expert System Overview • Structure of an Expert System • Expert Systems in the Arts • TECH TALK: Bots and Intelligent Agents

12.5 Neural Networks

The Neuron • Neural Networks • Training a Neural Network • Neural Networks in Action

12.6 Evolutionary Systems

The Genetic Algorithm • Genetic Programming • THE CUTTING EDGE: The Computer as an Inventor

12.7 Complex Adaptive Systems

Defining the Complex Adaptive System • Chaos • Artificial Life

12.8 Software Applications: Natural Language Translation

Web-Based Language Translation

CHAPTER 13 Pushing the Envelope of Human Potential

13.1 Historical Perspective

The 'Education Factory' • The Seed of Educational Change • VOICES FROM THE PAST: Seymour Papert–A Visionary Looks at Kids, Computers, and Learning

13.2 Why Are Computers Effective Teaching Tools?

13.3 What Can Computers Teach?

Cognitive Learning • Psychomotor Skills • Social Interaction

13.4 What Can Computers Help Us Learn?

TECH TALK Information Age Music Class–Composition and Performance

13.5 High-Tech Tools That Help Us Learn

CD-ROM and DVD • Local Area Networks • The Internet and the Web • Distance Learning • Presentation Technology

13.6 Real and Virtual Classrooms

The Brick and Cement Classroom • The Virtual Classroom

13.7 Software Applications: Electronic Test Generators

THE CUTTING EDGE: An Intelligent Essay Assessor • What Is an Electronic Test Generator and What Does It Do? • The Electronic Test Bank • Building a Test Using the inQsit Online Testing Program • Loading the Test Bank • Creating a Test • Taking a Test • Reporting Test Results

CHAPTER 14 Personal Security and Privacy

14.1 Introduction to Issues of Personal Security and Privacy

14.2 Fundamental Concepts in Personal Security

Viruses, Worms and Trojan Horses • VOICES FROM THE PAST: Phil Zimmermann–E-Mail Privacy for Everyone • Spyware • Phishing

14.3 The Annoying Types of Computer Assaults Affecting Personal Security and Privacy

Spam • Adware and Popups • Denial of Service Attacks • TECH TALK: Wireless Standards: Bluetooth and Wi-Fi

14.4 How to Protect Personal Security and Privacy from Hackers, Business, and Government

Protection from Viruses, Worms and Trojan Horses • Protection from Spyware and Adware/Popups • Protection from Unauthorized Access • Protection from Phishing • THE CUTTING EDGE: RFID • Protection from Spam




Kurt F. Lauckner received his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Michigan in 1968. While a member of the Department of Mathematics at Eastern Michigan University, he took a major role in creating that school’s Computer Science program. Over the past 30 years, he has developed a concepts approach to teaching computer literacy, and his “Computer Science Concepts and Practical Applications” has grown into EMU’s primary computer literacy course, currently enrolling several hundred students per year.


Zenia C. Bahorski received her Ph.D. in Technology from Eastern Michigan University in 2009. She received her master's degree in Educational Psychology with a Concentration in Education Technology in 1990 from Eastern Michigan University. She received her B.S. degree in 1988 in Secondary Teaching of Computer Science and Mathematics and obtained her secondary teaching certificate in 1988. Dr. Bahorski has been teaching as a tenured Instructor in the Department of Computer Science since 1990. Her main teaching interests have been in computer fluency, computer science teacher education, and human-computer interaction. Zenia Bahorski has worked closely with Kurt Lauckner over the past twenty years, contributing to the development of the textbooks and supplemental materials.