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Autonomic Computing: Glossary

Adaptive Algorithm
An algorithm that can "learn" and change its behavior by comparing the results of its actions with the goals that it is designed to achieve.

Algorithm
A procedure, which can be written as a set of steps, for producing a specific output from a given input.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)
The capacity of a computer or system to perform tasks commonly associated with the higher intellectual processes characteristic of humans. AI can be seen as an attempt to model aspects of human thought on computers. Although certain aspects of AI will undoubtedly make contributions to autonomic computing, autonomic computing does not have as its primary objective the emulation of human thought.

Autonomic
1. Of, relating to, or controlled by the autonomic nervous system.
2. Acting or occurring involuntarily; automatic: an autonomic reflex.

Autonomic Computing
An approach to self-managed computing systems with a minimum of human interference. The term derives from the body's autonomic nervous system, which controls key functions without conscious awareness or involvement.

Autonomic Nervous System
That part of the nervous system that governs involuntary body functions like respiration and heart rate.

Control Theory
The mathematical analysis of the systems and mechanisms for achieving a desired state under changing internal and external conditions.

Cybernetics
A term derived from the Greek word for "steersman" that was introduced in 1947 to describe the science of control and communication in animals and machines.

Feedback Control
A process by which output or behavior of a machine or system is used to change its operation in order to constantly reduce the difference between the output and a target value. A simple example is a thermostat that cycles a furnace or air conditioner on and off to maintain a fixed temperature.

Globus
A collaborative academic project centered at Argonne National Laboratory focused on enabling the application of grid concepts to computing.

Grand Challenge
A problem that by virtue of its degree of difficulty and the importance of its solution, both from a technical and societal point of view, becomes a focus of interest to a specific scientific community.

Grid computing
A type of distributed computing in which a wide-ranging network connects multiple computers whose resources can then be shared by all end-users; includes what is often called "peer-to-peer" computing.

Homeostasis
A physiological constancy or equilibrium maintained by self-regulating mechanisms.

Policy-based Management
A method of managing system behavior or resources by setting "policies" (often in the form of "if-then" rules) that the system interprets.

Quality of Service (QoS)
A term used in a Service Level Agreement (SLA) denoting a guaranteed level of performance (e.g., response times less than 1 second).

Redundant Arrays of Independent Disks (RAID )
A way of storing the same data in different places on multiple hard disks. Storing data on multiple disks can improve performance by balancing input and output operations. Since using multiple disks increases the mean time between failure, storing data redundantly also increases fault-tolerance.

Service Level Agreement (SLA)
A contract in which a service provider agrees to deliver a minimum level of service.

Service Level Management
Managing system performance (i.e. response time, compute power, storage space) by a contract in which a Service Provider agrees to deliver an agreed-upon minimum level of service.

Web Services
A way of providing computational capabilities using standard Internet protocols and architectural elements. For example, a database web service would use web browser interactions to retrieve and update data located remotely. Web services use UDDI to make their presence known.

This was last updated in June 2006

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