Sorry, for my confused question. I'm looking for some pointers.
Up to now I have been working mostly with Java and Python on the application layer and I have only a vague understanding of operating systems and hardware. I want to understand much more about the lower levels of computing, but it gets really overwhelming somehow. At university I took a class about microprogramming, i.e. how processors get hard-wired to implement the ASM codes. Up to now I always thought I wouldn't get more done if learned more about the "low level".
One question I have is: how is it even possible that hardware gets hidden almost completely from the developer? Is it accurate to say that the operating system is a software layer for the hardware? One small example: in programming I have never come across the need to understand what L2 or L3 Cache is. For the typical business application environment one almost never needs to understand assembler and the lower levels of computing, because nowadays there is a technology stack for almost anything. I guess the whole point of these lower levels is to provide an interface to higher levels. On the other hand I wonder how much influence the lower levels can have, for example this whole graphics computing thing.
So, on the other hand, there is this theoretical computer science branch, which works on abstract computing models. However, I also rarely encountered situations, where I found it helpful thinking in the categories of complexity models, proof verification, etc. I sort of know, that there is a complexity class called NP, and that they are kind of impossible to solve for a big number of N. What I'm missing is a reference for a framework to think about these things. It seems to me, that there all kinds of different camps, who rarely interact.
The last few weeks I have been reading about security issues. Here somehow, much of the different layers come together. Attacks and exploits almost always occur on the lower level, so in this case it is necessary to learn about the details of the OSI layers, the inner workings of an OS, etc.