A number cruncher is one of those exciting-sounding terms that means pretty much what it sounds like it does: it's a thing or a person who works with numbers. The most recognizable kind these days is a computer. The vast majority of the functions within a computer are done by a calculator, which was the original definition of the term.
Actually, technically speaking, a number cruncher can be a slide rule or even an abacus, since those devices can perform many calculations as well. The idea of those calculations being done very quickly brings electronic devices like calculators and computers to mind. Every so often, a computer company will make the news with claims of the new fastest time for calculations of things like pi to 100 places.
A number cruncher is also a software application. Commonly designed for younger students, this software performs multiple calculations quickly while teaching young students the importance of knowing the theory and rules behind those calculations. Many applications are available, with prices ranging from free to hundreds of US dollars.
Software applications that perform functions with numbers can also be used to manipulate data or create new data from existing data sets. Perhaps the most basic form of this kind of application is a random number generator. This kind of computer program runs an algorithm that drives the computer to pick a number at random from a huge list and display that number on the screen or insert it in the active part of another application. If we look deeper in the coding that runs certain popular software applications, we can find number cruncher elements like the random number generator and other kinds of data manipulation. The best-selling software applications, even the world’s most popular computer games, make use of this technology in order to create and manipulate situations on grids and layouts for alternate worlds or just plain repetitive-motion games.
A number cruncher can also be a person. These people include statisticians and financial analysts. Someone who is a financial analyst can have many different kinds of jobs. Common fields include stocks and securities, real estate, accounting, and banking. It is usually the case that a human number cruncher will use the electronic type to make the necessary calculations for his or her work.