Computation is defined as any type of calculation.[1] Also defined as use of computer technology in Information processing.[2][3]Computation is a process following a well-defined model understood and expressed in an algorithm, protocol, network topology, etc. Computation is also a major subject matter of computer science: it investigates what can or cannot be done in a computational manner.


Classes of computation

Computation can be classified by at least three orthogonal criteria: digital vs analog, sequential vs parallel vs concurrent, batch vs interactive.

In practice, digital computation is often used to simulate natural processes (for example, Evolutionary computation), including those that are more naturally described by analog models of computation (for example, Artificial neural network).

Computations as a physical phenomenon

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.

An even more radical point of view is the postulate of digital physics that the evolution of the universe itself is a computation - Pancomputationalism.

Mathematical models of computation

In the theory of computation, a diversity of mathematical models of computers have been developed. Typical mathematical models of computers are the following:


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

See also


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  • computation — [ kɔ̃pytasjɔ̃ ] n. f. • 1413; lat. computatio ♦ Didact. Méthode de supputation du temps. ● computation nom féminin (latin computatio, onis, calcul) Manière de calculer le temps. ⇒COMPUTATION, subst. fém. Calcul, évaluation. Un calcul éclatant… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Computation — Com pu*ta tion, n. [L. computatio: cf. F. computation.] 1. The act or process of computing; calculation; reckoning. [1913 Webster] By just computation of the time. Shak. [1913 Webster] By a computation backward from ourselves. Bacon. [1913… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • computation — early 15c., from M.Fr. computation, from L. computationem (nom. computatio), noun of action from computare (see COMPUTE (Cf. compute)) …   Etymology dictionary

  • Computation — Computation, Zeitberechnung; C. naturalis, vom Anfangspunkt genau bis zum Schlußmoment; C. civilis (juristische), wo die Kalendertage als die kleinsten zu berücksichtigenden Zeittheile angenommen werden. Wichtig fürs Erbrecht, Usucapien und… …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • computation — I noun account, accountancy, accounting, adding, amount computed, appraisal, appreciation, assessment, audit, bookkeeping, calculation, count, counting, deduction, enumeration, estimate, estimation, evaluation, figure work, figuring, measurement …   Law dictionary

  • computation — [n] performing arithmetic calculation, ciphering, computing, counting, data processing, estimating, estimation, figuring, gauge, guess, reckoning, summing, totalling; concept 764 Ant. conjecture, guesstimation …   New thesaurus

  • computation — ► NOUN 1) mathematical calculation. 2) the use of computers, especially as a subject of research or study. DERIVATIVES computational adjective …   English terms dictionary

  • computation — [käm΄pyo͞o tā′shən] n. [ME computacioun < L computatio] 1. the act of computing; calculation 2. a method of computing 3. a result obtained in computing; computed amount computational adj …   English World dictionary

  • computation — [[t]kɒ̱mpjʊte͟ɪʃ(ə)n[/t]] computations N VAR Computation is mathematical calculation. The discrepancies resulted from different methods of computation... He took a few notes and made computations. Syn: calculation …   English dictionary

  • computation — UK [ˌkɒmpjʊˈteɪʃ(ə)n] / US [ˌkɑmpjəˈteɪʃ(ə)n] noun Word forms computation : singular computation plural computations formal a) [countable/uncountable] the process of calculating a number or amount b) [countable] a number or amount that you have… …   English dictionary