Data Input

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Data Input


(into an electronic computer), the set of procedures that provides for the storage of initial and auxiliary information in electronic computers for subsequent processing. This is done with automatic and semiautomatic input devices (usually in digital computers, less frequently in analog computers) and manually.

The data input in analog computers specifies the commutation of the operation units, the assignment of the starting conditions, the establishment of the amplifier and potentiometer transmission factors, and the setting of the functional dependence and variable coefficient assignment units. In the ideal analog computer the data input process is fully automated—for example, by means of a punch tape that controls the variation of the potentiometer transmission factors and the setting of the function generators.

The digital computer data input operation is performed in two stages: preprocessing of the input data (that is, representation of the data in digital form and translation from a natural language to the machine language of a specific digital computer, with or without recording, on an intermediate data carrier) and the input (storage) of the processed data directly into the computer. These operations are performed either at different times (with the manual and semiautomated input processes) or simultaneously (with the fully automated input process), depending on the type of computer, its performance and technical equipment, and the circuitry and principle of operation of the input devices.

The data input process is closely associated with the programming systems and procedures, the organization of the external communications system of the digital computer, and the specifications of the communication channels through which the data are fed.

The efficient utilization of computer time, the cost of the entire computer complex, and the expediency of its utilization depend to a large extent on the selection of technical facilities used to provide the data input. The input devices, which determine the data input rate, perform the inter-mediate data-processing operations at a considerably slower speed than a processor. To obtain the optimal load of the digital computer, several input devices (often of different types) are set up to operate simultaneously. The data input process usually requires the use of electromechanical and photoelectric punch-tape and card readers, magnetic-tape readers, and devices for coupling the digital computer with communication channels providing the automatic data input directly from the composing units or other digital computers. Occasionally—for example, with self-adjustment or checking of individual units—the data is fed from a keyboard on the control panels of these units or from the digital computer’s central control panel. Promising methods are being developed, such as data input by voice, computer reading of manuscripts and printed texts, and graphic display of input data.


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