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Interrupts are in some ways the most "famous" system resources, since almost everyone who's used a computer has heard of them--even if they don't know what they are. :^) An interrupt is basically what it sounds like, a message from one part of the computer to another (normally to the system processor) that tells it that it needs to stop what it is doing, and do something else instead. An IRQ is an interrupt request, and is the name for the actual signal that is used when a peripheral requests an interrupt of the processor.
Interrupts play a key role in how the processor performs input/output processing, and interfaces with every peripheral in the computer, from the keyboard and mouse to the hard disk and modem.