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Computing fundamentals

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


  • fragmentation - In some operating system's file systems, a data file over a certain size is stored in several "chunks" or fragments rather than in a single contiguous sequence of bits in one place on the storage medium, a process that is called fragmentation.
  • framework - In computer systems, a framework is often a layered structure indicating what kind of programs can or should be built and how they would interrelate.
  • framing effect - Framing effect is a form of cognitive bias which causes people to focus more on the positive or negative aspects of a decision, situation or information based on the way it is presented.
  • free software - Free software is software that can be freely used, modified, and redistributed with only one restriction: any redistributed version of the software must be distributed with the original terms of free use, modification, and distribution (known as copyleft).
  • freeware - Freeware (not to be confused with free software) is programming that is offered at no cost and is a common class of small applications available for downloading and use in most operating systems.
  • FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) - FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) is the term for any strategy intended to make a company's customers insecure about future product plans with the purpose of discouraging them from adopting competitors' products.
  • full-stack developer - A full-stack developer is a type of programmer that has a functional knowledge of all techniques, languages and systems engineering concepts required in software development.
  • function - In information technology, the term function (pronounced FUHNK-shun) has a number of meanings.
  • functionality - In information technology, functionality (from Latin functio meaning "to perform") is the sum or any aspect of what a product, such as a software application or computing device, can do for a user.
  • Furby - Furby (pronounced FURR-bee) is the name of an electronic toy, five inches tall, that is covered with simulated fur, has big eyes and ears, a vocabulary of over 200 words, and a limited ability to react to its environment.
  • futzing (or futzing around) - Futzing or "futzing around" is unstructured, playful, often experimental interaction between a human being and a computer, product, or any technology, sometimes but not always with a productive purpose in mind.
  • fuzzy number - A fuzzy number is a quantity whose value is imprecise, rather than exact as is the case with "ordinary" (single-valued) numbers.
  • fuzzy search - A fuzzy search is a process that locates Web pages that are likely to be relevant to a search argument even when the argument does not exactly correspond to the desired information.
  • game theory - Game theory is the study of mathematical models of negotiation, conflict and cooperation between individuals, organizations and governments.
  • garbage - In computers, garbage has two related meanings: From a user's perceptual point-of-view, garbage is often used to mean anything on your display screen that looks unreadable or unviewable.
  • geek - In computers and the Internet, a geek is a person who is inordinately dedicated to and involved with technology.
  • geekosphere - The geekosphere is the physical ambiance around you and your workstation.
  • general-purpose computer - A general-purpose computer is one that, given the appropriate application and required time, should be able to perform most common computing tasks.
  • genetic engineering - Genetic engineering is the deliberate, controlled manipulation of the genes in an organism with the intent of making that organism better in some way.
  • geocaching (GPS stash hunting) - Geocaching, also referred to as GPS stash hunting, is a recreational activity in which someone "buries" something for others to try to find using a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver.
  • George Boole - George Boole (1815-1864) was a British mathematician and is known as the founder of mathematical logic.
  • geospatial analysis - Geospatial analysis is the gathering, display, and manipulation of imagery, GPS, satellite photography and historical data, described explicitly in terms of geographic coordinates or implicitly, in terms of a street address, postal code, or forest stand identifier as they are applied to geographic models.
  • ghost site - A ghost site is a Web site that is no longer maintained but that remains available for viewing.
  • gibibyte (GiB) - A gibibyte (GiB) is a unit of measure of capacity used in computing.
  • gigabit - In data communications, a gigabit is one billion bits, or 1,000,000,000 (that is, 10^9) bits.
  • gigaflop - As a measure of computer speed, a gigaflop is a billion floating-point operations per second (FLOPS).
  • glass house - Glass house is a term for centralized computing in an enterprise and the mindset of those who plan and administer it.
  • glitch - In several usages in information technology, a glitch (pronounced GLIHTCH) is a sudden break in function or continuity, sometimes of a transient nature, with a varying degree of seriousness.
  • globbing - Globbing is the process of expanding a non-specific file name containing a wildcard character into a set of specific file names that exist in storage on a computer, server, or network.
  • glocalization - Glocalization is the concept that in a global market, a product or service is more likely to succeed when it is customized for the locality or culture in which it is sold.
  • going forward - Going forward is a relatively new and apparently convenient way to indicate a progression in time from the present.
  • googol and googolplex - A googol is 10 to the 100th power (which is 1 followed by 100 zeros).
  • Gopher - From about 1992 through 1996, Gopher was an Internet application in which hierarchically-organized text files could be brought from servers all over the world to a viewer on your computer.
  • gopherspace - Gopherspace is a term used to describe the aggregate of all the information on the thousands of Gopher servers in the world.
  • GPGPU (general purpose graphics processing unit) - A general-purpose GPU (GPGPU) is a graphics processing unit (GPU) that performs non-specialized calculations that would typically be conducted by the CPU (central processing unit).
  • GPU (graphics processing unit) - A graphics processing unit (GPU) is a computer chip that performs rapid mathematical calculations, primarily for the purpose of rendering images.
  • GPU supercomputer - A GPU supercomputer is a networked group of computers with multiple graphics processing units working as general-purpose GPUs (GPGPUs) in tandem on a single task.
  • Grace Hopper nanosecond - A Grace Hopper nanosecond is a visual aid that represents how fast electricity can travel in one billionth of a second.
  • graph theory - Graph theory is the study of points and lines.
  • gravesite - In the context of the World Wide Web, a gravesite is either: A Web site that has been abandoned or forgotten by its originators that is nevertheless still accessible on a server.
  • gravity (or gravitation) - Gravity, also called gravitation, is a force that exists among all material objects in the universe, attracting objects with non-zero mass toward each other.
  • gravity wave (or gravitational wave) - A gravity wave (or gravitational wave) is a ripple in the curvature of the space-time continuum (the enmeshed combination of our three perceived physical dimensions, plus time) created by the movement of matter.
  • gravure - Gravure is a printing method in which an image is applied to a printing substrate by use of a metal plate mounted on a cylinder.
  • gray goo (or grey goo) - Gray goo (in British spelling, "grey goo") is a term used to describe what life on our planet might become if self-replicating robots or nanomachines got out of control and began to use up life forms for their own energy needs in some unstoppable way.
  • grayscale - Grayscale is a range of shades of gray without apparent color.
  • 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.
  • Greeking - Greeking is the use of unreadable dummy text in places reserved for text when prototyping the design or general layout of pages in magazines, books, brochures, advertisements, Web pages, and other visual media.
  • Gregorian calendar - The Gregorian calendar is the calendar in current use in the Western world, both as the civil and Christian ecclesiastical calendar.
  • gremlin - A gremlin is an imaginary creature that causes trouble in devices and systems of all kinds.
  • grid computing - Grid computing uses small, distributed resources from servers and PCs to solve big problems.
  • GUI (graphical user interface) - A GUI (usually pronounced "GOO-ee") is a graphical (rather than purely textual) user interface to a computer.
  • gyroscope - A gyroscope is a device with a spinning disc or wheel mechanism that harnesses the principle of conservation of angular momentum: the tendency for the spin of a system to remain constant unless subjected to external torque.
  • H.264 (MPEG-4 AVC) - H.264, also known as MPEG-4 AVC (Advanced Video Coding), is a video compression standard that offers significantly greater compression than its predecessors.
  • half-life - In science, a half-life (also, as a noun, spelled half life) is the amount of time it takes for half of a substance or entity to undergo some specified process.
  • hangup (or hang) - A hangup, also called a hang, is a condition that sometimes occurs when computer programs conflict or do not run properly.
  • haptics - Haptics (pronounced HAP-tiks) is the science of applying touch (tactile) sensation and control to interaction with computer applications.
  • hard copy (printout) - A hard copy (or "hardcopy") is a printed copy of information from a computer.
  • hard drive shredder - A hard drive shredder is a mechanical device that physically destroys old hard drives in such a way that the data they contain cannot be recovered.
  • hard error - A hard error is an issue in RAM that results from a permanent physical flaw in the module caused by a hardware failure or defect.
  • hard reset (factory reset; master reset) - A hard reset, also known as a factory reset or master reset, is the restoration of a device, such as a smartphone or tablet, to its state when it left the factory.
  • header - In information technology, a header is, in general, something that goes in front of something else and is usually repeated as a standard part of the units of something else.
  • Herman Hollerith - Born in 1860 in Buffalo, NY, Herman Hollerith was the creator of the Hollerith Electric Tabulating System, the ancestor to computers as we know them today.
  • heterogeneous - Heterogeneous (pronounced HEH-tuh-roh-DJEEN-ee-uhs, from the Greek heteros or "other" and genos or "kind") is the characteristic of containing dissimilar constituents.
  • heuristic - As an adjective, heuristic (pronounced hyu-RIS-tik and from the Greek "heuriskein" meaning "to discover") pertains to the process of gaining knowledge or some desired result by intelligent guesswork rather than by following some preestablished formula.
  • hexadecimal - Hexadecimal describes a base-16 number system.
  • hibernation - Hibernation is a mode in which a computer is turned off but saves its state to resume when it is turned on again.
  • hiccup - In information technology, hiccup is an informal term for a non-recurring problem of indeterminate cause that usually does not cause a significant disruption of work or activity.
  • hierarchy - A hierarchy is an organizational structure in which items are ranked according to levels of importance.
  • high-performance computing (HPC) - High-performance computing (HPC) is the use of parallel processing for running advanced application programs efficiently, reliably and quickly.
  • histogram - A histogram is a display of statistical information that uses rectangles to show the frequency of data items in successive numerical intervals of equal size.
  • holographic print - A holographic print is a rendition of a hologram on a flat surface, producing 3-D (three-dimensional) effects when viewed.
  • holographic storage (holostorage) - Holographic storage is computer storage that uses laser beams to store computer-generated data in three dimensions.
  • home server - A home server is a computer that functions as a server in a client-server home network.
  • host (in computing) - A host (also known as "network host") is a computer or other device that communicates with other hosts on a network.
  • hotfix - A hotfix is code (sometimes called a patch) that fixes a bug in a product.
  • htm - htm is sometimes used as a short form of the file name suffix for an HTML file.
  • human factors (ergonomics) - In industry, human factors (also known as ergonomics) is the study of how humans behave physically and psychologically in relation to particular environments, products, or services.
  • Human Genome Project - The Human Genome Project is a global, long-term research effort to identify the estimated 30,000 genes in human DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) and to figure out the sequences of the chemical bases that make up human DNA.
  • humanware - Humanware is hardware and software that emphasizes user capability and empowerment and the design of the user interface.
  • hybrid application (hybrid app) - A hybrid application (hybrid app) is one that combines elements of both native and Web applications.
  • hyper - As an adjective, hyper is slang for "keyed up" or "overwrought.
  • hyperspace - Hyperspace is a term that describes the total number of individual locations and all of their interconnections in a hypertext environment.
  • hypervisor - A hypervisor is a function that abstracts -- isolates -- operating systems (OSes) and applications from the underlying computer hardware.
  • hypothesis - A hypothesis (plural: hypotheses) is a statement that may be tested and proven to be either true or false.
  • hysteresis - Hysteresis is the tendency for a system to change or react based on a trend of how it has already transformed leading up to a specific point in time.
  • ICT (information and communications technology, or technologies) - ICT, or information and communications technology (or technologies), is the infrastructure and components that enable modern computing.
  • ICT4D (Information and Communications Technologies for Development) - ICT4D (Information and Communications Technologies for Development) is an initiative aimed at bridging the digital divide (the disparity between technological "have" and "have not" geographic locations or demographic groups) and aiding economic development by ensuring equitable access to up-to-date communications technologies.
  • identity management (ID management) - Identity management (ID management) is the organizational process for identifying, authenticating and authorizing individuals or groups of people to have access to applications, systems or networks by associating user rights and restrictions with established identities.
  • idoru - An idoru is a virtual (computer-created) media star.
  • IFrame (Inline Frame) - The IFrame HTML element is often used to insert content from another source, such as an advertisement, into a Web page.
  • image compression - Image compression is minimizing the size in bytes of a graphics file without degrading the quality of the image to an unacceptable level.
  • image of the early universe - An image of the early universe, showing irregularities in its brightness 380,000 years after its birth, has been produced by a device called the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP).
  • imaginary number - An imaginary number is a quantity of the form ix, where x is a real number and i is the positive square root of -1.
  • IMHO (in my humble opinion) - Like FYI (for your information), IMHO (in my humble opinion) is an abbreviation for a phrase sometimes used in online chatting and e-mail.
  • implementation - Implementation is the execution of any idea, model, or method; in IT, it refers to the process of setting up new software or hardware after a purchase is made.



  • data governance policy

    A data governance policy is a documented set of guidelines for ensuring that an organization's data and information assets are ...

  • risk management

    Risk management is the process of identifying, assessing and controlling threats to an organization's capital and earnings.

  • compliance as a service (CaaS)

    Compliance as a Service (CaaS) is a cloud service service level agreement (SLA) that specified how a managed service provider (...


  • intrusion detection system (IDS)

    An intrusion detection system (IDS) is a system that monitors network traffic for suspicious activity and alerts when such ...

  • Secure Shell (SSH)

    SSH, also known as Secure Shell or Secure Socket Shell, is a network protocol that gives users, particularly system ...

  • intrusion prevention system (IPS)

    An intrusion prevention system (IPS) is a network security and threat prevention tool.




  • cache memory

    Cache memory, also called CPU memory, is high-speed static random access memory (SRAM) that a computer microprocessor can access ...

  • capacity management

    Capacity management is the broad term describing a variety of IT monitoring, administration and planning actions that are taken ...

  • cloud storage

    Cloud storage is a service model in which data is transmitted and stored on remote storage systems, where it is maintained, ...