# How does a computer direct the processing of information

So I'm reading Introduction to computing systems:From bits and gates to C and beyond, and the author states that a CPU is the mechanism that

...directs the processing of information. Which is figuring out what task should get carried out next

My question is: what exactly does he mean when he says that a processor "figures out" the next task that the computer has to carry out? Do we have a model for this from a software perspective?

The way that I currently understand this statement is that by "figuring out", he's referring to the Control Unit, from the Von Neumann model of a stored program computer, but I know there's different computer architectures out there. The author implying that the a computer is essentially a CPU in the same paragraph just adds to my confusion.

We have used the word computer many times in the preceding paragraphs, and although we did not say so explicitly, we used it to mean a mechanism that does two things: It directs the processing of information and it performs the actual processing of information. It does both of these things in response to a computer program. When we say "directing the processing of information," we mean figuring out which task should get carried out next. When we say "performing the actual processing," we mean doing the actual additions, multiplications, and so forth that are necessary to get the job done. A more precise term for this mechanism is a central processing unit (CPU), or simply a processor.

• ultimately happens because some program running in the CPU made it happen is not the solid state physicist's notion of ultimately. Or the philosopher's, musing about intelligence and everything. – greybeard Mar 16 at 6:45