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I would guess about 100,000 operations. Certainly not as few as 100. All these tiny operations add up to a useful big operation: displaying a new Web page.

Machine Instructions

Users and programmers of computers usually don't think about the billions of tiny electronic operations that go on each second. The situation is (very roughly) similar to when you are driving your car. You think about the "big operations" it can perform, such as "accelerate", "turn left", "brake", and so on. You don't think about tiny operations, such as the valves in your engine opening and closing 24,000 times per minute or the crankshaft spinning at 3000 revolutions per minute.

Each tiny electronic operation that a processor core can perform is called a machine operation. A processor (a "machine") performs these one at a time, but billions of them in a second.

A machine instruction consists of several bytes in memory that tell the processor to perform one machine operation. The processor looks at machine instructions in main memory one after another, and performs one machine operation for each machine instruction. The collection of machine instructions in main memory is called a machine language program or (more commonly) an executable program.

Don't panic if the above seems incomprehensible. It takes some getting used to. (And to really understand it all takes several courses.)


When they are running, are machine langage programs located in main memory along with data?