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Concepts for Functions

Learn about how Functions work by exploring their conceptual model.

“Compute” is an encompassing term used to describe the actions taken by a computer. When we talk about it with regards to web development and at Vercel, we use compute to describe actions such as (but not limited to) building and rendering - essential operations needed to turn your code into a site that appears for users.

What is compute?This guide provides a journey through the necessary components that are needed to understand edge computing.

Cloud infrastructure providers typically give us access to several layers of abstraction that map to the traditional counterparts:

  • Set of Computers → Cluster
  • Computer → VM Instance (e.g., EC2)
  • Process → Container
  • Thread → Function (Lambda)

Vercel focuses on the last one: the Serverless Function. If we think in terms of primitives, it closely mirrors a thread of computation.

We have typically been able to provision entire computers or orchestrate processes, but a faster, more granular and more parallelizable primitive like the thread has only recently become available.

Conceptual ModelLearn about how Functions work by exploring their conceptual model.