What's the point? (Android partitions)

Lately, I've been flashing a bunch of different ROMs, and in each one, they require you to have a certain amount of your memory partitioned. I'm not too experienced in this particular area and I've been wondering what is the point of all the partitioning?

Why can't we just have one partition and run things off of that like with a computer running on windows??

What are the differences between ext2 and ext3 and so on?

So far, I've only been able to find out that the swap partition is for memory extension when the phone is currently using all of its ram, it can convert some of the sd card's memory to use for programs. Can anyone provide more insight on this?

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