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In computers, transparent means something a little different than its general meaning of having the quality of being easily seen through , coming closer to meaning invisible or undetectable . Computer programs and procedures that are said to be transparent are typically those that the user is - or could be - unaware of. Transparency is considered to be especially desirable in situations where users that are not particularly technically inclined would tend to be confused by seeing or having to interact directly with programming components. The domain name system  (DNS), for example, operates in a transparent manner, resolving authorized domain names into Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, all without the user's knowledge. Transparent is also used to refer to a change or upgrade of hardware or software that is undetectable in subsequent uses of the system.

A secondary meaning of transparent refers to complete predictability, as, for example, in a transparent computer system or program, output is entirely predictable from knowing the input.

This was last updated in June 2010

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I always struggled to understand this term as explained in here transparent in dictionary is completely different. Thanks a bunch for sorting this out for once and all.
I believe this is a complete misuse of the word "transparent". Software engineers have mangled this word for over 30 years. They mean to say "opaque" or something equivalent. There is no legitimate reason for this egregious misuse of English. It should be corrected in the journals. Can anyone provide the origins of this specific use of "transparent"?
I hear you, post 471034. I've always been a little bothered by this. We're using the word exactly opposite of its standard meaning. On the other hand, I also "get it". A window is transparent; you "don't even know it's there", but it serves the purpose of blocking wind and rain, so we could say that transparency allows an object to fulfils its purpose without being noticeable, like the NSA.
I feel the same way, post 475265. The computer tech usage of "transparency" does make sense, but it's absolutely irritating that it's effectively its own opposite.

Something I found amusing was that post 471034 used the phrase "egregious misuse" in it. "Egregious" meant "remarkably good" before its usage became ironic and it changed definition to its opposite.
Thanks for this clarification. The way this word is used by software engineers has bothered me for a long time just like the other commenters here!
It's like an optical illusion... I get both sides of it now.


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