Browse Definitions:
Definition

heap

Contributor(s): Eric Ringnes

In certain programming languages including C and Pascal , a heap is an area of pre-reserved computer main storage ( memory ) that a program process can use to store data in some variable amount that won't be known until the program is running. For example, a program may accept different amounts of input from one or more users for processing and then do the processing on all the input data at once. Having a certain amount of heap storage already obtained from the operating system makes it easier for the process to manage storage and is generally faster than asking the operating system for storage every time it's needed. The process manages its allocated heap by requesting a "chunk" of the heap (called a heap block ) when needed, returning the blocks when no longer needed, and doing occasional "garbage collecting," which makes blocks available that are no longer being used and also reorganizes the available space in the heap so that it isn't being wasted in small unused pieces.

The term is apparently inspired by another term, stack . A stack is similar to a heap except that the blocks are taken out of storage in a certain order and returned in the same way. In Pascal, a subheap is a portion of a heap that is treated like a stack.

This was last updated in April 2005

Start the conversation

Send me notifications when other members comment.

By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy

Please create a username to comment.

-ADS BY GOOGLE

File Extensions and File Formats

Powered by:

SearchCompliance

  • smart contract

    A smart contract, also known as a cryptocontract, is a computer program that directly controls the transfer of digital currencies...

  • risk map (risk heat map)

    A risk map, also known as a risk heat map, is a data visualization tool for communicating specific risks an organization faces. A...

  • internal audit (IA)

    An internal audit (IA) is an organizational initiative to monitor and analyze its own business operations in order to determine ...

SearchSecurity

SearchHealthIT

SearchDisasterRecovery

  • incident management plan (IMP)

    An incident management plan (IMP), sometimes called an incident response plan or emergency management plan, is a document that ...

  • crisis communication

    Crisis communication is a method of corresponding with people and organizations during a disruptive event to provide them with ...

  • Zerto

    Zerto is a storage software vendor that specializes in enterprise-class business continuity and disaster recovery in virtual and ...

SearchStorage

  • SSD write cycle

    An SSD write cycle is the process of programming data to a NAND flash memory chip in a solid-state storage device.

  • data storage

    Data storage is the collective methods and technologies that capture and retain digital information on electromagnetic, optical ...

  • hard disk

    A hard disk is part of a unit -- often called a disk drive, hard drive or hard disk drive -- that stores and provides relatively ...

SearchSolidStateStorage

  • hybrid hard disk drive (HDD)

    A hybrid hard disk drive is an electromechanical spinning hard disk that contains some amount of NAND Flash memory.

Close