What is hierarchy? - Definition from WhatIs.com
Part of the Computing fundamentals glossary:

A hierarchy is an organizational structure in which items are ranked according to levels of importance. Most governments, corporations and organized religions are hierarchical.

In a computing context, there are various types of hierarchical systems. Most file systems, for example, are based on a hierarchical model in which files are placed somewhere in a hierarchical tree model. A file is placed in a directory (folder in Windows) or subdirectory at the desired place in the tree structure. The computer memory hierarchy ranks components in terms of response times, with processor registers at the top of the pyramid structure and tape backup at the bottom.

The word hierarchy comes from the Greek hieros, meaning sacred, and archein, meaning to rule. The word first entered English in the fourteenth century. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, it originally referred to “each of the three divisions of angels, every one comprising three orders, in the system of Dionysius the Areopagite.”

This was last updated in September 2012
Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

Related Terms

Definitions

  • IS (information system or information services)

    - An information system (IS) is the collection of technical and human resources that provide the storage, computing, distribution, and communication for the information required by all or some part o... (WhatIs.com)

  • distributed

    - Computing is said to be "distributed" when the computer programming and data that computers work on are spread out over more than one computer, usually over a network.Cloud computing is a particula... (WhatIs.com)

  • greedy algorithm

    - A greedy algorithm is a mathematical process that looks for simple, easy-to-implement solutions to complex, multi-step problems by deciding which next step will provide the most obvious benefit. (WhatIs.com)

Glossaries

  • Computing fundamentals

    - Terms related to computer fundamentals, including computer hardware definitions and words and phrases about software, operating systems, peripherals and troubleshooting.

  • Internet applications

    - This WhatIs.com glossary contains terms related to Internet applications, including definitions about Software as a Service (SaaS) delivery models and words and phrases about web sites, e-commerce ...

Ask a Question. Find an Answer.Powered by ITKnowledgeExchange.com

Ask An IT Question

Get answers from your peers on your most technical challenges

Ask Question

Tech TalkComment

Share
Comments

    Results

    Contribute to the conversation

    All fields are required. Comments will appear at the bottom of the article.