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A simple instructional computer

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1 Author(s)
Morgan, S.M. ; Dept. of Comput. Sci., Texas A&M Univ., College Station, TX, USA

A fully functional computer is described that is simple enough to be built by junior-level undergraduate computer science students with no electronics experience. Any computable algorithm can be programmed using its tree instructions, which are modelled after Turing's original machine. Building this computer gives the computer science students confidence that computer hardware is real and understandable. Layered enhancements of this basic machine can prove to its builders that it can indeed execute any computable algorithm and provides practical exam questions to motivate the study of all six levels of modern computer systems: hardware, microprogram, instruction set, operating system, assembly language, and problem-oriented language level. Equally important, this computer provides a vehicle for practicing hardware/software tradeoffs at several architectural levels. Assigning computer development to small teams of students provides essential professional experience in solving open-ended design problems, working in teams, and presenting original ideas to their peers

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Education, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:31 ,  Issue: 2 )