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What is a Modular System?

By Troy Holmes
Updated May 16, 2024
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In computer science, system integration is the merging of multiple applications and devices to create a complete software application. Within this integration each component is considered a module to the entire application. A modular system is a computer application made up of components that are integrated into a larger overall application.

Modular application development is similar to putting together a jigsaw puzzle. Each piece of the puzzle is critical for the creation of the end product. Typically, advanced computer applications include "specialized custom of the shelf" (COTS) products that are integrated into an enterprise application. Each COTS product has business rules designed to complete a specific task within the application.

Home computer systems typically include monitors, printers, camera, keyboard, and mouse. This is an example of a modular system. Each devise has a specific purpose for the overall computer system. These devices can be upgraded or modified without impacting the other modular components.

Modular software development is an efficient use of best of breed software components. This process enforces logical boundaries between components of an application. These components interact by using software or hardware interfaces.

Distributing computing is the software design technique that enables the distribution of software modules across hardware platforms. This modular system approach has built-in expansion potential. As demand increases, new servers can be added to the distributed architecture without requiring software changes.

A modular personal computer (PC) is a small computer device that has interchangeable components for operation. This device creates an independence from standard hardware configurations found in laptops and desktops. With the creation of cloud computing, modular PCs will continue to grow in popularity.

Grid computing is an engineering technique that uses the hardware and processing power of multiple computer systems to solve complex problems. The grid computing model represents a modular system. Each computer within the grid has the responsibility of solving a specific problem for the overall application.

There are several complex problems that require modular thinking. Within computer applications it is important to break problems into manageable components. As an example, creating a computer application to solve multiple humanitarian problems would require extremely complex algorithms. By creating separate boundaries for each computer module, the coding, testing, and implementation become easier.

The object-oriented programming paradigm (OOP) is an example of modular software development. An object is term used to describe a computer component that consists of functions, definitions, and specific boundaries. Within OOP it is critical to keep an object definition confined to the data pertinent for that object. Multiple objects are combined in the software application to create a the complete modular system.

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