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Computing terms and glossary

A glossary of common computer (computing) and Internet terms with definitions that are easy to understand.

1-1 programme

Scheme in which every student is given their own laptop.

3D modelling

Software often used in the digital restoration of historic sites or artefacts.

3G

System to allow Internet access using mobile phone networks.

4G

System to allow Internet access using mobile phone networks.

AAC

Lossy file format for audio.

absolute cell reference

In a spreadsheet, a cell reference which does not change when moved.

absolute link

HTML link to a fully specified URL.

acceptable use policy

Policy that sets out what users are and are not allowed to do with IT systems.

acceptance testing

Testing performed by the client and users as part of the handover process.

access levels

Settings that determine who can access an item and what they can do with it (read, write, delete). Applies to files, folders and databases among other things.

accessibility

Hardware and software features to help disabled users operate computer systems.

accounting software

Application software for managing finances.

ACID

Atomicity, Consistency, Isolation, Durability. Properties of a database that help guarantee data integrity.

Active Server Pages

Technology used to create dynamic web pages, designed by Microsoft.

Active Server Pages Extended

Technology used to create dynamic web pages, designed by Microsoft.

ad blockers

Software to block adverts in web pages.

adaptive maintenance

Maintenance that changes software to make it work with a new software environment.

ADC

Device for sampling analog data and producing a digital sample of it.

addiction

Compulsive use of a computer system that can lead to negative effects, including health problems. A growing problem!

Adobe Flash Player

A web browser plugin which allows a variety of multimedia and interactive content to be included in web pages.

agile development

Development method that focuses on creating small, working parts of a project at regular intervals.

AI

Creating a system that produces results comparable to human intelligence.

alignment

Tools to control placement of objects in presentation or DTP software.

alpha testing

Initial testing of an IT system.

ALT attribute

HTML attribute that provides a text description of images.

alternative key

Field by which a database is often searched.

American Standard Code for Information Interchange

Encoding system to store text, where one byte is used for each character. Compare Unicode.

analog data

Continuous data which can be measured, such as the temperature in the room.

analog to digital converter

Device for sampling analog data and producing a digital sample of it.

analyst

In project development, person who documents the current system, finding its problems and areas for improvement

anchor

HTML link which points to a different part of the same page.

android

Robot designed to look like a human, with lifelike skin and other features.

ANPR

Software which processes video camera data to read vehicle number plates and compare it to those stored in a database.

anti-plagiarism software

Software to detect plagiarised work by searching the Internet and previous work samples.

anti-virus

Software to detect and remove viruses and other malware.

Apache

Well known web server software.

applet

Java program which runs inside a web page.

application server

Computer that stores application software for clients on a network.

application software

Software which allows users to produce work, such as documents and presentations.

application suite

Collection of application programs that perform related tasks, sold together.

Artificial Intelligence

Creating a system that produces results comparable to human intelligence.

Artificial Neural Network

AI system that attempts to mimic the neurons and synapses in the human brain.

ASCII

See American Standard Code for Information Interchange.

ASP

Technology used to create dynamic web pages, designed by Microsoft.

ASPX

Technology used to create dynamic web pages, designed by Microsoft.

assistant

See wizard.

assumptions

Often made during the construction of a computer model, as part of the simplification process.

asymmetric key encryption

Encryption system in which two keys are used: a public key used only to encrypt data, and a private key used only to decrypt it.

asynchronous

Data transfer method in which the sender and receiver are not synchronised.

asynchronous learning

In a tele-learning environment, learning which does not require the teacher and student to be online at the same time.

Atomicity

Part of ACID. A way of ensuring that database transactions either happen in their entirety, or not at all. For example, a payment from A to B must have money subtracted from person A and credited to person B. Atomicity means either both transactions occur, or neither do.

attributes

Component of an Entity Relationship Diagram.

audio software

Application software for creating, recording, and editing sound.

audit trails

Record of all changes and actions performed with a system, for security purposes.

auditing

Recording database transactions made by users (e.g. all edits, reads) for security purposes.

augmented reality

Overlapping layers of computer data with images of the real world.

authentication

Establishing a user's identity.

authentication server

Computer that checks usernames and passwords when a user tries to log in.

authorised access

User who has permission to use a system.

Automatic Number Plate Recognition

Software which processes video camera data to read vehicle number plates and compare it to those stored in a database.

automatic recalculation

Spreadsheet feature that updates results when cells are changed.

autonomous

Robot which operates without human intervention.

avatar

Representation of a person in a virtual environment.

AVI

Lossy file format for video.

B2B

E-commerce conducted between two businesses, such as a business and their suppliers.

B2C

E-commerce conducted between a business and their customers, for example, online shopping.

back-end

Database which stores web site content 'behind the scenes'.

backbone

High speed connections that connect main Internet sites.

backdoor

Method of bypassing security in a system, built in by the system designers.

backup

Spare copy of data to be used in the event of an emergency.

BAN

Environmental campaign group that works to reduce the problems caused by e-waste.

bandwidth

Measure of a network's speed.

banner ads

Graphical adverts that are typically displayed across the top of a web page.

bar code scanners

Input device that uses a laser to read a bar code.

Basel Action Network

Environmental campaign group that works to reduce the problems caused by e-waste.

Basel Convention, The

Environmental agreement regarding e-waste.

battlefield network

Large scale network gathering information from soldiers, vehicles, and maps to provide an overall view of the battlefield.

bespoke software

Software created specific for an individual or organisation.

beta tester

Person who attempts to find bugs in software before it is released to customers.

beta testing

Testing of an IT system once all features have been added and only bugs need to be worked out.

biometric enrolment

Process of registering a user for a biometric system by taking an initial sample.

biometric template

Measurements taken from a biometric sample.

biometrics

Use of fingerprints, retina scans, or other body features as an authentication mechanism.

bit

A single binary digit (a 1 or a 0). The smallest unit of storage inside a computer.

Bit depth

Refers to the number of colours in an image.

bit rate

Amount of data used to represent a single sample in a video or audio file.

bitmap graphics

Graphics composed of rectangular grids of pixels.

bits per second

Unit for measuring the speed of data transfer over a network connection.

black boxes

Closed system whose internal operation cannot be inspected.

black list

List of banned web sites in a filtering system.

blade servers

Server design which is modular, allowing systems to be rapidly expanded and reducing power consumption.

blended learning

Mix of traditional teaching techniques and e-learning techniques.

blog

Web page where entries are stored chronologically, like a diary or journal.

blue screen

Technique used to replace part of a video image matching a certain colour with computer graphics.

Bluetooth

Short range, low bandwidth wireless technology often used for mobile phone headsets or earphones.

BluRay

Optical secondary storage device capable of storing 16GB+.

BMP

Lossless file format for audio.

Boolean logic

Logic in which clauses can have one of two states - such as yes or no, true or false.

Boolean operators

AND, OR, and NOT operators used in a query.

botnet

Group of zombie computers under the control of a criminal.

bounce rate

Percentage of users who visit a web site but immediately leave it.

bps

Unit for measuring the speed of data transfer over a network connection.

Braille keyboard

Special keyboard designed for users with eyesight problems.

Braille printer

Special printer that can produce Braille text.

breadcrumb trails

Feature of a web site to help user navigation by showing the current page name and the names of pages which led to it, in order.

browser

Software used to view web pages.

browser compatibility

An essential check to ensure that a web page appears the same way on all web browsers.

brute force attack

Attempt to break a password by trying all possible combinations of letters, numbers, and symbols.

brute force searching

AI technique that considers all possible solutions, looking for the best.

buffer

Temporary storage area used to store video or audio data ready for playing.

bug

Error or mistake in a program.

bug tracking system

Used to track and manage bugs in a piece of software.

bugs

Errors in a computer program or system, hopefully found during testing.

bulk email

Email sent to large numbers of users at once. May be considered spam by some users.

business case

Analysis of the benefits and problems of a proposed IT project.

Business Software Alliance

Organisation that works to reduce illegal copying of software.

Business-to-Business

E-commerce conducted between two businesses, such as a business and their suppliers.

Business-to-Consumer

E-commerce conducted between a business and their customers, for example, online shopping.

byte

Storage unit: 8 bits. Enough to store a single ASCII text character.

C2C

E-commerce where customers deal directly with each other, such as in online auction.

cache

Storage area for frequently used information, to speed up access.

CAD

Technical graphics software used to design products for manufacture.

camera

Common input device in robotics.

Capability Maturity Model Integration

Quality assurance method that describes an organisation's level of maturity.

CAPTCHA

'Scribble text' displayed as an image, which the user must type in to verify that they are a person.

car crash model

Used to predict the results of car crashes.

cardinality

Property of a relationship in an Entity Relationship Diagram.

Carpel Tunnel Syndrome

A health problem causing pain in the wrist, often associated with overuse or incorrect of a computer system.

Cascading Style Sheets

Technology to specify styling and formatting information for web pages.

CAVE

Form of virtual reality which projects images on the walls surrounding a user.

Cave Automated Virtual Environment

Form of virtual reality which projects images on the walls surrounding a user.

CD-ROM

Optical secondary storage device capable of holding 650-700MB of data.

cell format

In spreadsheets, the properties of a cell such as its colour, font, and cell type.

cell range

In spreadsheets, reference to a range of continuous cells.

cell reference

In spreadsheets, a combination of row number and column letter to refer to a single cell (e.g. A2).

Central Processing Unit

Hardware responsible for processing all instructions the computer runs.

centralised database

database in which all data in stored in one centralised location.

centralized processing

Single computer with multiple processors working on a task.

Certificate Authority

Organisation that issues digital certificates to individuals and companies.

CFD

Computational Fluid Dynamics. A technique used to model airflow in computer models.

CGI

Graphics created entirely on a computer, using 2D or 3D graphics software.

chaining

Use of logical statements to come to a conclusion.

changeover

Moving from an old system to a new IT system.

character check

Ensuring a field contains only the specified character types.

check digit

Way of checking mathematically if a item of data has been correctly entered.

Children Internet Protection Act (CIPA)

US Law requiring schools to filter Internet content to protect children.

Children's Internet Protection Act

US law requiring Internet filtering in US most schools and libraries.

Chinese Room, the

Thought experiment dealing with the idea of knowledge.

chip and pin

Systems designed to reduce credit card fraud by requiring the user to authenticate themselves at the point of sale.

CIPA

US law requiring Internet filtering in US most schools and libraries.

ciphertext

Result of encrypting plaintext.

citation

Acknowledge to a piece of work used as a source.

citizen journalism

News reporting by everyday citizens using mobile technology, rather than traditional media.

clamps

Common output device in robotics.

claws

Common output device in robotics.

Click Through Rate

Percentage of users who click on an advert after seeing it.

client

Person or organisation who commissions an IT project.

client computer

Computer on a network that uses services provided by a server.

client-server

Network system that uses servers to store data centrally and client computers to access them.

Client-side software

In a web environment, refers to software that runs in the user's browser rather than on the web server.

climate model

Computer model used to predict possible future climate change.

clinical decision support system

Expert system for medical diagnosis

clock speed

Speed of a processor, in ticks per second.

cloning

Graphics technique which copies one part of an image to another, often to remove something from the image.

closed source

Software whose source code is not publicly available.

cloud computing

System whereby application software and data are stored on a remote Internet server.

CMMI

Quality assurance method that describes an organisation's level of maturity.

CMS

Content Management System. Software which allows management of a web site without web design skills. Content is stored in a database and published in different ways, such as on a web site, in a printed booklet, or in different languages. Sometimes called a WebCMS.

collaborative software

Application software to let users work together on projects even if they are geographically remote.

colour balance

Graphics filtering for altering the tones and intensities of colours in an image.

colour depth

Refers to the number of colours in an image.

colour levels

Graphics filtering for altering the tones and intensities of colours in an image.

Colour management

Ensuring printed output colours accurately match those on the screen.

colour profile

Used as part of colour synchronisation to specify how a device represents colour.

Colour synchronisation

Ensuring printed output colours accurately match those on the screen.

Comma Separated Values

File format for transferring data, which stores fields and records in a plain text file, separated by commas. See also TSV (Tab Separated Values).

command line interface

System the user controls by typing in commands.

commercial software

Software which is sold for profit.

CompactFlash

Solid state storage device usually used in digital cameras.

compatibility

Idea that two systems work together and can share hardware, software, or data.

composite image

Image which was created from several separate images.

composite key

Primary key which consists of more than one field.

compression

Reduction in the amount of data used to store a file.

computational intelligence

Approach that tries to create systems that think and learn in the same way humans do.

Computer Aided Design

Technical graphics software used to design products for manufacture.

Computer Generated Imagery

Graphics created entirely on a computer, using 2D or 3D graphics software.

computer matching

Combining several databases to build up more information about a person or set of people.

Computer Misuse Act

UK law governing criminal offences committed using a computer.

Computer model

Mathematical representation of the real world using computer software.

Computer simulation

Based on computer models, gives users experience of events such as flying a plane.

computer vision

Techniques to let computers and robots see and understand the world around them.

concept keyboard

Keyboard with keys that perform programmable, customised functions.

Concurrency

Methods used to ensure multiple (concurrent) operations can be performed on a database without causing data integrity problems. Related to ACID and record locking.

concurrent licence

Software licence that allows a specific number of copies to be used at one time.

confidence interval

Level of certainty in an answer a pattern recognition system provides.

Consistency

Part of ACID. Ensures that data in a database is always in a consistent state - i.e. that it follows all data validation rules. (Note that this is not the same as being correct).

consistency check

Validation check in which two fields' values are mutually dependent.

constraints

Limitations within which an IT system must work.

Consumer-to-Consumer

E-commerce where customers deal directly with each other, such as in online auction.

content rating

System whereby web site content is categorised so that filters can block it if necessary.

continuous data

Analog data which can be measured, such as the temperature in the room.

Convergence

Idea that one device performs the same functions as many separate devices.

conversion rate

Percentage of visitors who visit a site and then make a purchase.

cookies

Small text file text by some web sites to recognise the user when they return.

copyright

Law protecting intellectual property from unauthorised copying.

copyright infringement

Illegally copying or distributing copyrighted material.

corrective maintenance

Maintenance that fixes bugs in software.

Cost Per Click

Amount paid to the advertising company when a user clicks on an advert.

CP

Longest (slowest) path through a project's development, as determined by using a PERT chart.

CPC

Amount paid to the advertising company when a user clicks on an advert.

CPU

See Central Processing Unit.

cracking

Gaining illegal access to a computer system

Creative Commons

Licensing system for authors who wish to distribute their work freely.

Critical Path

Longest (slowest) path through a project's development, as determined by using a PERT chart.

Cropping

Taking a small part (subset) of an image.

cross-platform

Hardware or software that works on multiple operating systems.

CRT

Old, large TV style computer monitors.

CRT monitor

Output device. Older type of monitor, now almost obsolete.

CSS

Technology to specify styling and formatting information for web pages.

CSV

File format for transferring data, which stores fields and records in a plain text file, separated by commas. See also TSV (Tab Separated Values).

CTR

Percentage of users who click on an advert after seeing it.

CTS

A health problem causing pain in the wrist, often associated with overuse or incorrect of a computer system.

Customer relationship management (CRM) system

A computerised system for managing an organisation's customer, sales, and marketing information. This might also include customer sales and technical support.

cyber-bullying

Use of IT such as social networks to harass or bully individuals.

cyber-terrorism

Using computer hacking techniques to commit acts of terrorism.

cyber-warfare

Using computer hacking techniques to commit acts of war.

cybernetics

Integration of IT into the human body.

data centres

Large warehouses of computers that host hundreds or thousands of gigabytes of data.

data collection

Used to find information about an existing system during the development of a new system.

data entry form

Screen used to input data into a database.

Data Flow Diagram

Shows processes in a system and the flows of data between them.

data integrity

Ensuring data is correct, consistent, and update to date.

data layers

Layers of information added to a Geographical Information System.

data logging

Automatic recording of data using sensors.

data matching

Combining several databases to build up more information about a person or set of people.

data mining

Searching collections of data for hidden patterns.

Data Protection Act

UK law that governs the collection and use of personal data.

data redundancy

Data in a database which is needlessly duplicated.

data structure

The way the data within an IT system is organised and related.

data synchronisation

Exchanging data between a computer and a portable device such as a smart phone.

data throughput

Rate at which data is processed and output by a system.

data types

Format of data in a field, such as text, number, or date.

data warehouses

Vast databases containing many gigabytes of data.

data-driven web sites

A web site whose pages are generated at view-time, from data stored in a database. For example, when a user performs a search in a shop, all matching products are extracted from the database and a web page is generated to display them.

database administrator

The person in an organisation who is responsible for setting up, maintaining, and monitoring the organisation's database(s).

Database Management System

Software used to create, enter, edit, and retrieve data in a database.

database server

Computer on a network that stores data for other users to access.

database software

Application software for creating, recording, and finding large collections of data.

DBMS

Software used to create, enter, edit, and retrieve data in a database.

DDoS

Denial of service attack committed using dozens of computers, usually zombies on a botnet.

Decision Support System

Use of models or expert systems to aid (business) decision making processes.

Defragmentation

Process of reducing disk fragmentation.

delivery

Installing a new IT system at the client's premises.

denial of service attack

Flooding a computer system with data so that it cannot respond to genuine users.

deployment

Stage in the SDLC where the system is deployed at the client's site.

deskilling

Reduction in the skill needed to do a job, due to technology

desktop computer

Typical computer system with a separate screen and system unit.

desktop publishing software

Application software used to lay out pages for printed publications.

development manager

In project development, person who oversees programmers as they create the system specified in the design.

device drivers

Utility software used by the operating system to communicate with peripheral devices.

DFD

Shows processes in a system and the flows of data between them.

DHCP

System that automatically assigns IP addresses to computers on a network.

dialup

Internet access that connects using a telephone line and a MODEM.

dictation software

Use of software to convert spoken words into text.

dictionary attack

Attempt to break a password by trying all possible words.

digital cameras

Camera that saves images digitally, often in JPEG format.

digital certificates

Technique used to authenticate remote users, such as online shopping businesses.

digital data

Discrete data which can be counted.

digital divide

The idea that money, language, education, or infrastructure creates a gap between those who have access to information technologies and those who do not.

digital effects

General name for operations performed on an image using graphics software.

digital footprint

An individual's effect on the environment due to e-waste.

Digital Millennium Copyright Act

Law designed to improve copyright protection for media companies, and make it illegal to bypass copy protection systems such as DRM.

digital radio

Upgraded version of radio signals which offers higher quality than analog television.

digital restoration

The process of using digital versions of historic works or places and software to 'rebuild' them to their previous states.

Digital Rights Management

Software which restricts the actions a user can perform with a file, such as copying or printing.

digital signatures

Technique used to authenticate remote users, such as online shopping businesses.

digital television

Upgraded version of television signals which offers higher quality than analog television.

digital video cameras

Camera that saves digital video

digitisation

The process of converting analog data into digital computer data.

digitize

To convert data from analog to digital form.

direct changeover

Immediate removal of an old system and complete replacement with a new IT system.

direct payment

E-commerce payment using a debit or credit card.

Direct Recording Electronic

Voting machines where users cast votes by touching a screen.

discrete data

Discrete data which can be counted.

disk wiping

Securing deleting files from a disk, beyond recovery.

Distributed database

A database in which data is stored on multiple computers in separate physical locations. Various techniques are used to synchronise the data to prevent data integrity problems.

Distributed Denial of Service attack

Denial of service attack committed using dozens of computers, usually zombies on a botnet.

distributed processing

Use of multiple separate computers working together on a common task.

DMCA

Law designed to improve copyright protection for media companies, and make it illegal to bypass copy protection systems such as DRM.

DNA database

A database, often national, that contains DNA samples taken from people arrested by the police.

DNS

System for translating domain names into IP addresses.

DNS poisoning

Technique used by criminals to alter DNS records and drive users to fake sites, to committing phishing.

do not track

Initiative designed to stop tracking cookies from recording user's web activity.

DOC

File format for documents, used by Microsoft Office.

Domain Name System

System for translating domain names into IP addresses.

domain names

Human readable names given to web sites, such as www.itgstextbook.com

donation schemes

Schemes used to find additional uses for obsolete computer equipment to extend it's useful life.

DoS

Flooding a computer system with data so that it cannot respond to genuine users.

dots per inch

Also known as printer resolution. The number of dots of colour a printer is capable of producing in a certain amount of space.

download

To transfer data from a server to a client computer.

DPI

Also known as printer resolution. The number of dots of colour a printer is capable of producing in a certain amount of space.

DRE voting machine

A type of electronic voting machine that allows the user to vote by selecting the candidates name using a touchscreen.

Drive-by download

Program which automatically downloads when a user visits a web page, usually without their knowledge or consent.

DRM

Software which restricts the actions a user can perform with a file, such as copying or printing.

drone

An unmanned aerial vehicle often used by the military for surveillance operations.

DSL / cable

Common type of broadband Internet connection.

DTP

See desktop publishing software.

dual core

A multi-core system with two processor cores.

Durability

Part of ACID. Durability means that once a transaction has occurred, it must 'stay occurred', even if the power is lost or the hard disk crashes or there is some other disaster. This typically records a record of all transaction (a transaction log) to be kept.

DVD

Optical secondary storage device capable of storing up to 8GB.

Dvorak keyboards

Alternative keyboard layout to improve typing speed.

Dynamic Host Control Protocol

System that automatically assigns IP addresses to computers on a network.

dynamic web site

A web site whose pages are generated at view-time, from data stored in a database. For example, when a user performs a search in a shop, all matching products are extracted from the database and a web page is generated to display them.

e-book

An electronic book, presented as a document on a computer or an e-book reader.

e-book reader

Portable device used to download and read e-books.

E-commerce

The techniques used to sell products online.

e-learning

Electronic learning. The use of IT to teach and learn.

E-marketing

The techniques used to market produces online.

e-passport

Passport with a microchip containing biometric features, and RFID technology to transmit these to immigration control.

e-petition

An online petition that can be signed by people supporting a cause.

e-prescriptions

Electronic prescriptions.

e-store

A name for a web page which lets the user browse and purchase items.

e-waste

Discarded electronic equipment that is either broken or obsolete.

EB

See Exabyte

EDI

Process of transferring data between systems in a standard format that both can understand.

edutainment

Entertainment software designed to have an educational aspect.

EFT

Transfer of money from one account to another using computer systems and networks.

EHR

Computerised medical records, often stored on a centralised server.

Electronic Data Interchange

Process of transferring data between systems in a standard format that both can understand.

Electronic Funds Transfer

Transfer of money from one account to another using computer systems and networks.

Electronic Health Records

Computerised medical records, often stored on a centralised server.

electronic ink

Technology used in e-book readers to improve display quality.

Electronic Medical Records

Computerised medical records, often stored on a centralised server.

electronic shopping cart

Feature of e-commerce sites which contains items for later purchase.

electronic textbooks

E-books designed to replace traditional paper textbooks for teaching and learning

electronic voting

Any use of IT to count or cast votes in an election.

electronic waste

Discarded electronic equipment that is either broken or obsolete.

email monitoring

Technology to monitor emails sent and received, usually by employees.

email server

Computer on a network that stores email for other users to access.

Embedded systems

Computer system hidden inside another device, such as a car engine management system.

employee monitoring

Technology used to monitor the work of employees using a computer system.

EMR

Computerised medical records, often stored on a centralised server.

emulator

A computer program which simulates another type of computer, so that it can run programs designed for it.

encryption

System of encoding plaintext so that it cannot be understood with access to an encryption key.

encryption key

Used to encrypt and decrypt data.

end user licence agreement

Licence agreement for software that sets out the users rights and responsibilities.

end-user

Person who will use an IT project one it is finished.

enterprise information system

System that allows an organisation to collect, manage, and analyse large amounts of information about its products, its processes, and its customers.

Entertainment Software Rating Board

Organisation that provides content ratings for computer games.

entities

Component of an Entity Relationship Diagram.

entity relationship diagram

Shows the items of data stored in a system and the relationships between them.

equality of access

The use of technology to ensure that everybody is able to access resources, regardless of problems such as physical disabilities.

ERD

Shows the items of data stored in a system and the relationships between them.

ergonomics

Meaning a system design for user comfort.

eSATA

A modern type of connector for attaching external hard disks

ESRB

Organisation that provides content ratings for computer games.

ethernet

Type of wired network connection commonly used on LANs.

EULA

See end user licence agreement

EV SSL

Extended Validation SSL. Digital certificate validation technique used on the world wide web.

exabyte

Storage unit: 1024 petabytes.

expert system shell

Software used to create expert systems.

expert systems

Software designed to make the same decisions that a human expert would, in a given knowledge domain.

external hard disk

Portable storage device often used for backups.

external link

HTML link which points to a separate, external web site.

extranet

Content on a LAN which is available to authorised third parties.

eye tracking software

Accessibility software that tracks where a user is looking on the screen.

failover system

See Redundant system.

fair use

Exceptions to copyright law that allow copying in certain limited circumstances.

false negative

When a system incorrectly rejects an action instead of accepting it.

false positive

When a system incorrectly accepts an action instead of rejecting it.

feasibility study

Examination of a proposed system to see if its creation is possible.

Federation Against Software Theft

Organisation that works to reduce illegal copying of software.

feedback loop

Comparing the results of a computer model to actual (real life) results, and using the differences to improve the model for the future.

fibre optic

Types of network connection that offers extremely high speed transfers.

field

Single item of data about a single record in a database.

field size

Validation technique. Number of characters that can be stored in a field.

file server

Computer on a network that stores files for other users to access.

File Transfer Protocol

System for transferring files over the Internet, often used for uploading web sites.

filter

Software which blocks some Internet content, based on a series of rules or lists of content.

filtering

Process of preventing access to some resources, usually web pages.

filters

General name for operations performed on an image using graphics software.

firewall

Hardware or software that controls access to a network.

firewire

Interface for attaching external hard disks and digital video cameras.

first party cookie

Cookie left by a web site the user directly visited.

FLAC

Lossless file format for audio.

Flash

Technology often used to create interactive web pages.

flash memory/flash drive

See solid state storage.

flat classrooms

Use of IT to connect classrooms with other classrooms around the world

flat file database

Database which consists of just one table.

fleet management

Software to track and manage fleets of vehicles, including route planning and data analysis functions.

fleet tracking

Software to display the location of vehicles, such as trucks or taxis.

flight simulator

Simulator hardware and software used to train pilots.

flipping

Image effect found in most graphics software.

follow-the-sun working

System of moving working to different offices around the globe as the day progresses, ending work in each location as the end of the day approaches, and moving it to a new office elsewhere where the day is just beginning.

footer

Area of a document which appears the same on every page.

foreign key

Database field whose sole purpose is to form part of a relationship with another table.

forms

Screen used to input data into a database.

formula

In spreadsheets, a combination of cell references and mathematical operations.

forums

Online areas where users can post messages to each other.

fragmentation

Problem that occurs as files are saved on non-contiguous sectors on a disk.

free and open source software

Software whose source code is freely available and can be changed and distributed.

freeware

Software which is distributed for no cost.

frequently asked questions

List of questions and answers often found in manuals and help screens.

FTP

System for transferring files over the Internet, often used for uploading web sites.

Full backup

Backup that copies all data from a system.

full body scanners

Security system used at airports to produce a digital image of passengers 'without clothes'.

full disk encryption

System that encrypts all data saved to a hard disk automatically and transparently.

full motion platform

Hardware device which can move in many directions to increase the realism of simulators.

function

Built in features of spreadsheets for performing common calculations.

functional requirements

Specific features and functions that a proposed IT system must have.

future warrior

Information technology designed to improve a soldier's understanding of the battlefield around him.

fuzzy logic

Logic in which items can have multiple values. Used in AI.

fuzzy set theory

System in which items can be partial or complete members of a set. Used in AI.

game controllers

Input device with buttons used for games playing.

Gantt chart

Used to chart the stages of a planned IT project and the people responsible for each stage.

gateway

Computer which acts as a bridge between a local area network and the Internet.

GB

See Gigabyte.

Gbps

Gigabits per second. Measure of network bandwidth.

Geographical Information System

A system which allows layers of data to be placed on map data to visualise and analyse it. For example, crime rate figures can be layered on a map of a city.

geotagged

Adding tags to data (such as an image) to identify the location in which it was created.

GHz

See gigahertz.

GIF

Lossless file format for images.

Gigabyte

Storage unit: 1024 megabytes.

gigahertz

Unit of measurement for a processor's clock speed. 1000 MHz.

GIS

A system which allows layers of data to be placed on map data to visualise and analyse it. For example, crime rate figures can be layered on a map of a city.

Global Climate Model

Computer model used to predict possible future climate change.

Global Positioning System

System of satellites which can pinpoint a users location on the Earth.

GNU Free Documentation License

Licensing system for authors who wish to distribute their work freely.

goal seek

Spreadsheet tool used to determine the required values to meet a certain goal.

GPS

See Global Positioning System

GPS receiver

Part of the GPS system which calculates its distance from satellites in space.

Graphical User Interface

System the user controls using a mouse to click on icons, buttons, and windows.

graphics software

Application software for creating and editing images.

green screen

Technique used to replace part of a video image matching a certain colour with computer graphics.

grid computing

Use of multiple separate computers working together on a common task.

ground penetrating radar

Specialist imaging hardware used to detect and visualise objects buried underground.

GUI

See Graphical User Interface.

hacking

Gaining illegal access to a computer system

hand writing recognition

System to recognise human writing and convert it to text.

handover

Point at which the developers of a system formally pass it to the client.

hard copy

A printed paper copy of data.

hard disk

Magnetic secondary storage device found in most desktop and laptop computers.

hardware

Physical parts of a computer system.

hardware address

Unique address embedded in network connected devices.

HDTV

Television images that have a resolution up to 1920 x 1080.

head control systems

Accessibility software that tracks a users head movements to allow them to input data.

head wand

Accessibility hardware that lets a user input using a wand connected to their head.

header

Area of a document which appears the same on every page.

heat sensor

Common input device in robotics.

heuristics

General rules for performing a task, used to improve the perform of searching algorithms in AI applications.

high contrast mode

Accessibility setting for users with eyesight problems.

High Definition Television

Television images that have a resolution up to 1920 x 1080.

high performance computing

High speed computing using multiple processors

home automation

Home which uses technology to improve its efficiency, security, and comfort, by automating many aspects.

home directory

Directory that contains a users personal files.

home network

Small local computer network used in homes.

Home Theatre PC

Computer with multimedia capabilities designed specifically for watching television and films.

host

Computer on a network that provides services or performs work for others.

HTML

HyperText Markup Language. The standard language for creating web pages.

HTPC

Computer with multimedia capabilities designed specifically for watching television and films.

HTTP

HyperText Transfer Protocol. The standard protocol of the world wide web.

HTTPS

Secure version of HTTP which offers encrypted communication.

hub

Hardware device for connecting several computers on a network.

Human Genome Project

An online project designed to centrally store information about the human genome.

humanoid

Robot designed generally like a human - bipedal, upright, and arms, and a head.

humidity sensor

Common input device in robotics.

hyperlinks

Area of a web page - text or an image - which when clicked takes the user to another web page.

IDE

Interface for attaching internal hard disks.

identity theft

Stealing personal data in order to impersonate a person.

IF-THEN rule

Rule used by the inference engine in an expert system to describe the relationship between key concepts.

image editor

Software used to create or edit bitmap graphics.

implementation

Stage in the SDLC where the system is created (programmed).

incident escalation

Moving a problem with an IT project to a higher level if it cannot be solved.

Incident management system

Used to keep track of problems and difficulties encountered in an IT system.

incident tracking system

Used to keep track of problems and difficulties encountered in an IT system.

Incremental backup

Backup that copies only the changed data since the last backup.

index

Field by which a database is often searched.

inference engine

Part of an expert system which attempts to relate the users input with knowledge stored in the knowledge base.

inference rule

Rule used by the inference engine in an expert system to describe the relationship between key concepts.

information system (IS) managers

Person responsible for all IT purchases, deployments, and systems within an organisation.

infrared sensor

Common input device in robotics.

inkjet printer

Printer that works by spraying ink through nozzles at a sheet of paper.

input

Data or information that is entered into the computer.

input mask

Validation technique. Ensures only the specified characters can be entered into a field.

input switches

Accessibility hardware that lets a user input data by pressing a simple on-off switch.

installation

Installing a new IT system at the client's premises.

Integrated Development Environment

Set of programs used by system developers to create IT systems.

intellectual property

Refers to creations of the mind - non-physical property such as photographs, music, stories, and films.

intelligent cars

Cars incorporating IT to improve driver safety and comfort.

interactive whiteboard

Device that uses a projector for output and touch inputs, using a special pen.

internal link

HTML link which points to a different part of the same page.

internal support

Support for an IT system provided within an organisation.

Internet monitoring

Technology to monitor Internet data sent and received, usually by employees.

Internet Protocol

Standard protocol used on many LANs and on the Internet. See TCP.

Internet Service Provider

Company that provides Internet access to homes and businesses.

Internet voting

Systems which allows users to vote over the Internet.

Internet Watch Foundation

Organisation that works with British ISPs to block access to illegal content on the Internet.

intranet

Content on a LAN which is only available to members of an organisation.

IP address

Unique address assigned to every computer on a network.

IPTV

Systems which allows television images and sound to be delivered over the Internet.

IrDA

Short range, low bandwidth, line-of-sight wireless communication technology.

Isolation

Part of ACID. Ensures that one database transaction cannot unintentionally affect another. For example, two transactions to alter the same record cannot run at the same time.

ISP

Company that provides Internet access to homes and businesses.

IWF

Organisation that works with British ISPs to block access to illegal content on the Internet.

Java

Programming language often used to create interactive web pages.

JavaScript

Scripting language often used to create interactive web pages.

joystick

Input device used for games playing and flight simulators.

JPG

Lossy file format for images.

KB

See kilobyte.

Kbps

Kilobits per second. Measure of network bandwidth.

Kensington lock

Special lock for securing portable devices to immovable objects to prevent theft.

key escrow

Idea of having encryption keys stored by a third party company so the government can access them if needed.

key field

Field which contains a different value for every record in that table.

key logger

Software or hardware which records all key strokes on a computer system.

key pair

A public key and private key that work together in a public encryption system.

Keyboards

Input device that lets the user enter text and numeric data.

keystroke monitoring

Software or hardware which records all key strokes on a computer system.

keyword density

Frequently with which key words appear in a web page.

keyword filter

Filter that blocks web pages containing specified key words.

keyword prominence

Locations within a web page that key words appear.

keyword spamming

Overuse of key words in a web page in an attempt to increase search engine ranking.

Kilobyte

Storage unit: 1024 bytes

knowledge base

Area of an expert system where all facts about the knowledge domain are stored.

knowledge discovery

Searching collections of data for hidden patterns.

knowledge domain

Area of knowledge in which an expert system specialises.

knowledge engineer

Programmer responsible for entering expert knowledge into an expert system.

knowledge representation

Different techniques for representing concepts and their relationships inside a computer system.

LAN

Computer network in a small area such as an office building.

laptop

Portable computers that come in many shapes and sizes.

laser imaging

Remote imaging method that users laser light, often used by satellites.

laser printer

High speed printer.

laser scanning

Technique used to build 3D computer models of real world locations.

lasers

Common input device in robotics.

layer

Technique used in graphics software to place digital images or effects on top of each other to build up a final image.

LCD

Newer style 'flat screen' monitors.

LCD screen

Output device. The newer type of monitor which is flat.

LEDC

Countries to which electronic waste is often shipped for unsafe recycling and disposal.

legacy system

An old, out of date IT system which is still used because it is essential to an organisation.

length check

Validation technique. Number of characters that can be stored in a field.

Less Economically Developed Country

Countries to which electronic waste is often shipped for unsafe recycling and disposal.

Lidar

Remote imaging method that users laser light, often used by satellites.

life cycle (hardware)

For computer hardware, the period of time from its manufacture, through its use, until its eventual disposal.

light sensor

Common input device in robotics.

lights

Common output device in robotics.

link farm

Service that links many pages to each other in an attempt to increase search engine ranking.

load testing

Testing of an IT system with the amount of work it can be expected to process in real world conditions.

Local Area Network

Computer network in a small area such as an office building.

location based service

Web page which alters the information it displays based on the user's geographical location.

log file

Chronological record of events, used for reporting purposes and audit trails.

logic

Rule used by the inference engine in an expert system to describe the relationship between key concepts.

login

Process of authenticating oneself before using a computer system.

lookup

Using a list of values to limit what can be entered into a field. For example, for the 'Gender' field, the values are limited to 'male' and 'female'

lossless compression

Compression technique in which the original file is completely recoverable, with no loss of quality. Compare lossy compression.

lossy compression

Compression technique in which some file data is sacrificed in order to reduce file size.

loyalty card

Card used to identify repeat customers, to allow them to accumulate reward points, and to gather data about their shopping habits for marketing purposes

m-commerce

The use of mobile phones to conduct online purchases.

m-learning

Mobile learning. Use of mobile devices to teach and learn.

MAC address

Unique address embedded in network connected devices.

machine learning

Technique for making a computer produce better results by learning from past experiences.

machine translation

Technique for automatically translating one human language into another.

macro

In application software, a set of actions which are recorded so they can be played back later.

macro virus

Virus that takes advantage of the macro programming languages built into some software.

macro viruses

Virus that takes advantage of the macro programming languages built into some software.

Magnetic Ink Character Recognition

Input device that reads text written in special magnetic ink. Often used at the bottom of cheques.

magnetic storage

Type of secondary storage that users magnets to read and store data. Examples include floppy disks and hard disks.

magnetic stripe readers

Input device that reads the magnetic stripe on cards like ATM cards and bank cards.

magnetism sensor

Common input device in robotics.

mail merge

Automatically customising a standard letter with individual names and addresses.

mainframe

High end computer system that achieves very high data throughput.

maintenance

Alterations made to a system after it has been formally handed over.

malware

Generic name for malicious software

MAN

Computer network over a large area such as a city.

Massively Multiplayer Online Game

Games played by connecting to a central server and interacting with other players in a virtual world.

Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game

Games played by connecting to a central server and interacting with other players in a virtual world.

master page

A template page which is used to include standard features (such as page numbers or a header) on each page of a document in a consistent manner.

MB

See megabyte.

mbps

Megabits per second. Measure of network bandwidth.

MDI

See Menu Driven Interface

MEDC

Countries which are often a significant source of electronic waste.

medical expert system

Expert system for medical diagnosis support.

Megabyte

Storage unit: 1024 kilobytes

megahertz

Unit of measurement for a processor's clock speed.

megapixel

Unit used to measure the resolution of digital cameras. Refers to 1 million pixels.

Menu Driven Interface

Interface that presents a series of pre-defined options to the user.

meta tags

HTML tags to add additional information about a web page and its content.

Metropolitan Area Network.

Computer network over a large area such as a city.

MHz

See megahertz.

MICR

See Magnetic Ink Character Recognition

micro-payments

Online donations collected in small amounts, but which add up when contributed by thousands of users.

microblog

Blog-like system which limited post length, such as Twitter.

microphone

Input device for sound data

microprocessor

See Central Processing Unit.

MIDI

Musical Instrument Digital Interface. System for communication between musical hardware and software applications.

milestones

Key points during project development, such as the completion of a stage.

MIPS

See Millions of Instructions Per Second

mission creep

When the use of an IT system extends beyond its original purpose.

mixed reality

Combination of virtual reality and real life training.

MMC

Solid state secondary storage device, often used for digital cameras.

MMOG

Games played by connecting to a central server and interacting with other players in a virtual world.

MMORPG

Games played by connecting to a central server and interacting with other players in a virtual world.

mobile commerce

The use of mobile phones to conduct online purchases.

MODEM

Device for connecting a computer to a telephone line, used in dialup connections.

More Economically Developed Country

Countries which are often a significant source of electronic waste.

morphing

Effect that transforms one image into another over a series of frames.

Motherboard

The circuit board to which the internal computer components connect: the CPU, the RAM, the ROM, and the secondary storage devices

motion capture

A system used to capture human movement into a computer by attaching sensors to an actor and tracking their location.

motion controllers

Input devices which are moved through the air to control a computer system.

Motion Picture Association of America

Film industry group that works to reduce illegal copying of films.

motors

Common output device in robotics.

mouse

Input device used to control a cursor or pointer.

MOV

Lossy file format for video.

MP3

Lossy file format for audio.

MP4

Lossy file format for video.

MPAA

Film industry group that works to reduce illegal copying of films.

MPEG

Lossy file format for video.

Multi-core

Processor with more than one processor core, to increase its performance.

Multi-factor authentication

Use of several authentication techniques together, such as passwords and security tokens.

multi-touch

Input device able to recognise touches and gestures made with multiple fingers.

multi-user licence

Software licence that allows a specific number of copies to be used at one time.

multimedia

Use of images, audio, text, and video data together.

multimedia keyboard

Keyboard with buttons to perform common tasks such as program launching.

multimedia software

Application software for creating and editing presentations, animations, and video.

multiprocessing

A system with more than one processor, to increase its performance.

multitasking

A single processor running multiple tasks by switching rapidly between them.

myoelectric control

Control of IT using electrical impulses from the body

MySQL

Database system often used by data driven web sites.

narrowband

Low speed network connection.

native resolution

Resolution of an LCD display that produces the best display quality.

natural language processing

Techniques for processing human languages to enable a computer to understand their meaning.

netbook

Lightweight laptop computer designed for portability.

network administrator

Individual responsible for maintaining and running a network.

network manager

The person responsible for the installation, configuration, and monitoring of an organisation's network.

neural control

Control of IT using electrical impulses from the brain

neural networks

AI technique that tries to simulate the human brain, using neurons and synapses.

news aggregator

Software which fetches news headlines from a variety of sources for display in one location.

non-functional requirements

Conditions that a proposed IT system must meet, such as working on certain hardware or giving results within a certain time.

non-volatile storage

Storage which does not lose its contents when the power is removed.

normalization

Process of converting a database from a flat file database to a relational database.

object oriented graphics

Graphics which are stored as a series of mathematical shapes and properties that can be independently manipulated at any time.

OCR

See Optical Character Recognition.

ODT

File format for documents, used by LibreOffice.

off-the-shelf software

Software which is widely available and can be bought by anybody.

OMR

See Optical Mark Recognition.

one time password

Password generated by a security token, which expires as soon as it is used.

online banking

Use of the Internet to perform tasks such as bill payment, money transfers and other banking tasks.

online encyclopaedias

Web site containing a large number of articles for research purposes.

online lessons

A form of training delivered online.

online reputation

Methods used to measure the 'trust' and 'reliability' of people in an online network, especially when performing e-commerce or writing reviews.

online voting

Casting votes over the Internet.

onscreen keyboard

Keyboard which is displayed on screen and controlled by clicking on buttons with the mouse or a touch screen.

open courseware

Educational material which is released for free use and distribution.

open government

Use of IT to publish data about government operations, improving transparency.

open source

See free and open source.

open textbooks

Textbooks whose content is freely available online for reading, copying, and often editing.

operating systems

Software that manages the computer system and controls the hardware.

opt-in

System in which users must explicitly decide to participate.

opt-out

System in which users must explicitly decide not to participate.

Optical Character Recognition

Input device that reads printed text, scans it, and converts it to text that can be edited in a word processor.

Optical Mark Recognition

Input devices that reads simple multiple-choice style answers by looking for marks on the paper.

optical scanning electronic voting system

Voting machines which count paper ballots cast by voters.

optical storage

Storage devices which use lasers to store and read data. Examples include CDs and DVDs.

organisational IT policies

Policies governing the appropriate use of IT, data integrity, security procedures, and other aspects of IT use with an organisation.

output

Information which is produced by a computer system.

outputs

During analysis, a list of the results that a system must produce.

P2P

Network in which all computers are equal and there are no centralised servers.

package tracking

Use of RFID and a web site to show customers the location of packages awaiting delivery.

packet sniffer

Software or hardware used to collect data travelling over a network.

pages per minute

Speed at which a printer produces output.

PAN

Short range network between a computer and a mobile phone or similar portable device.

Pan European Game Information

Organisation that provides content ratings for computer games in Europe.

parallel processing

High speed computing using multiple processors

parallel running

Running the old system and the new system side by side.

parameter query

Database query whose criteria are decided by the user at run-time.

passphrase

Word or phrase used to authenticate a user.

password

Word or phrase used to authenticate a user.

pattern recognition

Computational Intelligence technique where computers are trained on examples and learn to recognise similarities between them.

payment gateway

A trusted third party who is used to receive and process payments in an online transaction.

paywall

System to prevent access to a web site's content unless the user pays a subscription fee.

PB

See petabyte.

PDA

See Personal Digital Assistant.

PDF

Common file format for the exchange of documents, which appears on screen exactly as it will appear on the printer.

Peer to peer

Network in which all computers are equal and there are no centralised servers.

Peer-to-Peer

Network in which all computers are equal and there are no centralised servers.

PEGI

Organisation that provides content ratings for computer games in Europe.

perfective maintenance

Maintenance that changes software to incorporate new user requirements (or changed requirements).

Personal Area Network

Short range network between a computer and a mobile phone or similar portable device.

personal data

Data which could identify a user, or lead to social impacts such as identity theft.

Personal Digital Assistant

Mobile device bigger than a phone but smaller than a laptop. Probably has a keyboard or at least a stylus (pen) and a touch-screen.

personal firewall

Software application that controls network access to and from a single computer.

Personal Health Record

Electronic health records which are stored on the patient's own computer system.

personally identifiable data

Data which could identify a user, or lead to social impacts such as identity theft.

PERT chart

Charting system to show the inter-dependencies in projects.

Petabyte

Storage unit: 1024 terabytes

pH sensor

Common input device in robotics.

pharming

Technique used by criminals to alter DNS records and drive users to fake sites, to committing phishing.

phase out

Gradually removing an old IT system from use.

phased changeover

One part of an organisation switches to a new IT system to test it, while others remain using the old system.

phishing

Use of fake emails and web sites to trick users into revealing sensitive data.

PHP

Technology used to create dynamic web pages.

PHR

Electronic health records which are stored on the patient's own computer system.

physical security

Locks, alarms, and other techniques used to securely a building or computer room.

piracy

Term for the illegal copying or downloading of copyrighted material.

pixel

Individual dots which make up bitmap graphics.

pixels per inch

Number of pixels displayed in each inch of screen output.

plagiarism

Use of another user's work without proper credit or citation being given.

plain text

Text file which contains no formatting data

plain text file

File format that stores characters using ASCII or Unicode encoding.

plaintext

Message before it is encrypted, or after it has been decrypted.

planned obsolescence

Idea that IT equipment is designed to have a short life expectancy before failing or becoming obsolete.

platform

Refers to a particular combination of hardware and operating system.

Plug-ins

Software added to web browsers to extend their functionality.

plugins

Software added to web browsers to extend their functionality.

PMBoK

Project Management Body of Knowledge. A project management methodology.

PNDRE

Voting machines where users cast votes over a network like the Internet.

PNG

Lossless file format for images.

podcast

Sound files recorded and uploaded to a web server, usually in episodic format.

Point of Sale

Checkout system in a shop, usually connected to a store database and EFT system.

pop-ups

A type of advertisement which opens a new browser window to display adverts.

port

Number used to determine the type of service required when a computer connects to another.

Portable Document Format

Common file format for the exchange of documents, which appears on screen exactly as it will appear on the printer.

POS

Checkout system in a shop, usually connected to a store database and EFT system.

power settings

Operating systems to affect the power consumption of a computer.

PPI

Number of pixels displayed in each inch of screen output.

precision guided weapons

Weapons that use IT to improve their accuracy or effectiveness.

prediction

Output of a computer model.

predictive text

System that predicts the word being typed based on the letters already typed.

presence check

Validation technique. Requires a field to be completed.

presentation software

Application software for creating slides used for lectures, presentations, and lessons.

pressure sensor

Common input device in robotics.

preventative maintenance

Maintenance that changes software to avoid possible future problems.

price comparison sites

Sites which aggregate price data from a variety of sources to offer customers the best deal.

primary key

Field which contains a different value for every record in that table.

Primary storage

Storage systems which are found inside the computer and are electronic. RAM and ROM are examples.

PRINCE2

PRojects IN Controlled Environments 2. A project management methodology.

print server

Computer on a network that receives and processes print requests.

printers

Output device which produces paper copies.

privacy policy

Policy governing what data a company or web site will collect about you and how it will be used.

private key

Key used for decryption in a public key encryption system.

processes

During analysis, a list of the procedures a system must implement.

processor

See Central Processing Unit.

procurement

The act of acquiring the necessary items (software, hardware, staff) to develop an IT system.

product activation

Process of registering software online before it can be used, to reduce illegal copies.

productivity software

See application software.

profile privacy settings

Settings in social networks and other systems to control how a user's data is shared with others.

programmer

A person who writes computer programs by following a design document.

project goals

Clear statement of the intentions of a proposed IT project.

project initiation document

Document used in PRINCE2 to describe the key features of an IT project.

project management methodology

Systems and techniques designed to encourage successful projects and avoid project failure.

project management software

Software to help plan, manage, and guide the process of IT project development.

project manager

Person with overall responsibility for an IT project.

project plan

Clear definition of the goals, scope, and schedule of a proposed IT project.

projector

Output device used to display computer graphics on a wall or board.

projectors

Output device for displaying content on large screens.

prosthetics

Devices used to replace a user's arms or legs if they have been amputated. Increasing becoming computerised.

protocols

A standard set of rules for performing tasks, such as communication.

prototype interface

Early version of a user interface to get feedback about its effectiveness.

prototypes

An early version of a project, designed to get feedback from the client and users.

proximity sensor

Common input device in robotics.

proxy server

Computer on a network which acts on behalf of another, or through which all Internet data must pass.

public domain

Software to which the author has waived all rights.

public key

Key used for encryption in a public key encryption system.

public key encryption

Encryption system in which two keys are used: a public key used only to encrypt data, and a private key used only to decrypt it.

Public Network Direct Recording Electronic

Voting machines where users cast votes over a network like the Internet.

push technology

System which notifies users of changes to web pages without them having to visit the page.

QR code

Quick Response Code. A type of 2D bar code that can store more data than a regular UPC bar code.

Quad-core

A multi-core system with four processor cores.

quality assurance methods

In project development, used to ensure the whole development team are following standardised best practises.

quality control processes

Processes to ensure code produced by programmers followed accepted best practices.

queries

Method of extracting data from a database that matches specific criteria

radar

Remote imaging method used by satellites.

Radio Frequency Identification

System of tags which contain data that can be read from a distance using radio waves.

radio tag

Tags which broadcast their position over a large distance using radio waves.

RAID

Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks. A way of having two (or more) hard disks in a computer and having the exact same data written to each of them automatically. If one of the disks fails, the computer can switch to the other disk and continue running normally (since the second disk is an exact copy).

RAM

See Random Access Memory.

Random Access Memory

Primary storage which is fast, relatively expensive, and volatile.

range check

Validation technique. Ensures a field is between a certain range of values.

ranking of sites

Process performed by search engines to determine the order of results for a given search.

raster graphics

Graphics composed of rectangular grids of pixels.

RDBMS

Relational DBMS. See Database Management System.

re-skilling

When a de-skilled user retrains, often in a technology related discipline.

Read / write web

Refers to web pages which allow user interaction and collaboration.

read me file

Help file containing latest updates and information about using a system.

Read Only Memory

Primary storage whose contents are written at manufacture and cannot be altered later.

real-time data collection

Data logging systems which report data as soon as it is collected.

record

Collection of fields that represent a single entity, such as a person.

Record locking

Technique used in databases to prevent a record being accessed by more than one user at a time. This prevents data integrity problems (such as a change by one user while another is reading it).

Recording Industry Association of America

Music industry group that works to reduce illegal copying of music.

recycling

The process of reclaiming valuable elements from waste electronic equipment, often done unsafely in developing countries.

reduce

The 'R' concerned with preventing e-waste problems by producing less waste equipment and using fewer harmful chemicals.

Reduction of Harmful Substances

A law which limits the harmful chemicals that manufacturers are allowed to put into their electronic equipment.

redundancy

Data in a database which is needlessly duplicated.

Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks

System where multiple hard disks contain duplicate data, to be used in the event of one failing.

redundant data

Data in a database which is needlessly duplicated.

Redundant system

System which will take over the role of a primary system if it fails.

redundant systems

System which will take over the role of a primary system if it fails.

reference software

Electronic encyclopedia software containing articles, images, videos, and other reference items.

referrer

A small piece of information sent to sites you visit, telling the site which site you just came from.

refurbish

The 'R' concerned with finding additional uses for equipment which is obsolete but not broken.

regression testing

Testing to ensuring changes to an IT system did not break any previously working functionality.

relational database

Database containing multiple related tables and no redundant data.

relationships

The links between separate items of data.

relative cell reference

In a spreadsheet, a cell reference which updates when moved.

relative link

HTML link to a file, with no path specified.

relays

Common output device in robotics.

Remote access

Ability to connect to a computer, over a network, as though you were physically present at the keyboard.

remote desktop

Ability to connect to a computer, over a network, as though you were physically present at the keyboard.

remote monitoring

Use of IT to monitor the health of patients over a large distance.

remote sensing

Techniques used by satellites to image the Earth.

remote vehicle disabling

Ability to disable a vehicle over a computer network if it has been stolen

Repetitive Strain Injury

Injury caused by overuse or incorrect use of a computer, which can affect the wrists, arms, back, or shoulders.

requirements specification

Clear list of the functional and non-functional requirements for a proposed IT project.

resolution

Refers to the number of pixels in an image.

restore (a backup)

Copying data from a backup copy back to the main system.

reuse

The 'R' concerned with finding additional uses for equipment which is obsolete but not broken.

reward card

Card used to identify repeat customers, to allow them to accumulate reward points, and to gather data about their shopping habits for marketing purposes

RFID

See Radio Frequency Identification.

RFID reader

See Radio Frequency Identification.

RFID tag

See Radio Frequency Identification.

RIAA

Music industry group that works to reduce illegal copying of music.

Rich Text Format

Standard file format that can store documents that include formatting data.

robot

Computerised device that performs manual or physical tasks, either autonomously or under remote control.

robotic arm

Common output device in robotics.

robotic fingers

Common output device in robotics.

RoHS

A law which limits the harmful chemicals that manufacturers are allowed to put into their electronic equipment.

ROM

See Read Only Memory.

root user

User will full control over a computer system.

rootkit

Type of malware which infiltrates the operating system and attempts to hide itself from view.

rotating

Image effect found in most graphics software.

route planning

Software to plan the optimum route between two points.

Router

Hardware device used to connect two separate networks.

RSI

Injury caused by overuse or incorrect use of a computer, which can affect the wrists, arms, back, or shoulders.

RSS

Really Simple Syndicate. A push technology.

RTF

See Rich Text Format.

safety critical system

System whose failure could result in injury or loss of life.

sample precision

During digitisation, the number of bits used to represent each sample.

sample rate

Number of samples taken each second when recording sound.

sampling

The process of converting analog data into digital computer data.

SAN

Network dedicated to providing disk storage to other computers on the network.

sat nav

Portable GPS receiver device often used in vehicles.

SATA

Interface for connecting storage devices like hard disks.

satellite imaging

The use of sensors on satellites to measure or record information, usually about the Earth.

satellite navigation system

Portable device that uses GPS to plot the user's position.

scaling

Changing the size of an image.

scanner

Input device used to digitise photographs and paper copies of data.

school information system

Database system for storing and managing information about a school, its students, and staff.

scope

Clear definition of the boundaries of an IT project.

screen magnification

Accessibility setting for users with eyesight problems.

screen reader

Accessibility feature for users with eyesight problems, which reads text aloud.

scripting

Simple programming that can be included in web pages to make them more interactive or dynamic.

SDLC

The stages in the life time of an IT system, from its first proposal, through its design and creation, to its eventual phasing out.

Search Engine Optimisation

Techniques used to increase a web page's search engine rankings.

searching

Method of extracting data from a database that matches specific criteria

secondary key

Field by which a database is often searched.

Secondary storage

Storage systems which are connected externally to the computer's motherboard.

secondary use

Using data for a purpose other than the one for which it was collected.

secret key encryption

Encryption system in which a single key is used for both encryption and decryption.

secure deletion

See disk wiping.

secure online payment

Essential for all online transactions, often achieved using SSL or TLS encryption.

Secure Socket Layer

System used to encrypt https web traffic.

security token

Hardware device that must be present during login to authenticate a user.

security update

Software update to fix a security problem discovered in software.

selection tools

Tools in graphics software for selecting only a subset of an image.

self checkout

Supermarket technology that lets users scan and pay for their own goods without staff assistance.

sensitive data

Data such as medical records which, if shared, could cause serious negative impacts on the data subject.

sensors

Input devices used to measure physical traits, such as sound, heat, or light.

SEO

Techniques used to increase a web page's search engine rankings.

serial number

Registration number needed during software installation, used to reduce illegal copies.

serious games

Games designed to teach players about an issue.

server

Computer on a network that provides services or performs work for others.

set theory

Mathematical theory used in some AI techniques.

shareware

Software which is free to use initially, but which must be pay for if use continues.

Silverlight

Technology often used to create interactive web pages.

simplification

Difference between a computer model's representation of a process, and the real life process.

simulation

Based on computer models, gives users experience of events such as flying a plane.

single-user licence

Software licence that allows the use of only a single copy on a single computer.

sip and puff

Accessibility hardware for users with very limited mobility

sirens

Common output device in robotics.

site licence

Software licence that allows an organisation to use software on an unlimited number of computers.

sitemap

Overview of a web site and all the links and pages within it.

Smart card readers

Device to read a smart card.

smart cards

Credit card sized card containing a microchip for data storage and processing.

smart cars

Cars incorporating IT to improve driver safety and comfort.

smart home

Home which uses technology to improve its efficiency, security, and comfort, by automating many aspects.

smart meters

Systems which measure a household's consumption of water or resources, producing statistics that can be used to improve efficiency.

smart shopping trolley

Shopping trolley with RFID technology to offer enhanced functionality.

smart weapons

Weapons that use IT to improve their accuracy or effectiveness.

Smartphone

Mobile phone with capabilities typically including Internet access and a camera.

smartphones

Mobile phone with capabilities including Internet access and a camera.

smishing

Phishing attacks committed using text messages (SMS).

social bookmarking

Web site that lets users store and manage their favourite links, and share them with others.

social engineering

Tricking a user into revealing their password or other sensitive data.

social media

Networks such as Facebook, Google, and Twitter, which are often used for advertising.

social network

Web site that lets users create personal profile pages and share them with friends.

social news

News sites which rank news stories based on user ratings.

Soft keyboard

Keyboard which is displayed on screen and controlled by clicking on buttons with the mouse or a touch screen.

software

The instructions and programs which are run by the CPU.

software testers

People who perform alpha, beta, and acceptance testing.

software verification

The use of experts to examine the source code of a program to check that it works correctly.

solid state storage

A type of secondary storage device that uses electronic circuits to read and store data. The advantage of this is that is has no moving parts, making it faster and less likely to be damaged if dropped. Also called flash memory. (Compare magnetic storage with optical storage and solid state storage)

sonar

Remote imaging method used by satellites.

sorting

Ordering records based on a field (e.g. alphabetically).

sound sensor

Common input device in robotics.

source code

Instructions that make up the software, entered by the programmer using a programming language.

spam

Unwanted, bulk email.

spam bot

Program that scans web pages for email address, in order to send spam.

spam filters

Program designed to identify and block spam messages while letting genuine messages through.

speakers

Output device for sound.

speech recognition

Computer system that can process spoken language and understand its meaning.

speech synthesis

Accessibility feature for users with eyesight problems, reads text from the computer out loud.

speed throttling

Reducing a processor's clock speed to save power when not in use.

sponsored links

Links show by search engines because the link owners paid a fee.

spreadsheet

Application software for performing numerical calculations and analysis.

spreadsheet software

Application software for performing numerical calculations and analysis.

spyware

Malware which covertly records a user's actions, such as their key presses.

SQL

Language for managing databases by typing commands.

SSADM

Structured Systems Analysis and Design Method. A project management methodology.

SSL

System used to encrypt https web traffic.

stereolithography

'3D printer' that can produce actual objects from computer models.

sticky keys

Accessibility setting for users with movement problems.

Storage Area Network

Network dedicated to providing disk storage to other computers on the network.

store-and-forward telemedicine

Telemedicine using techniques such as email, which do not operate in real time.

streaming media

Video or audio data that is played while it is downloading.

Structured Query Language

Language for managing databases by typing commands.

stylesheet

File which contains CSS information to format a web page.

stylus

Input device used in conjunction with touch screens.

supercomputer

Fastest computers available, capable of performing trillions of calculations per second.

supercomputers

Fastest computers available, capable of performing trillions of calculations per second.

support

Staff who help users with problems they encounter while using an IT system.

support staff

Staff who train users and help them with problems as they occur

SVG

Standard file format for vector image data.

switch

Hardware device for connecting several computers on a network.

SWOT

Analysis method sometimes used when creating a business case.

symmetric key encryption

Encryption system in which a single key is used for both encryption and decryption.

Synchronous

Data transfer method in which the sender and receiver are synchronised, allowing higher speed transfer.

synchronous learning

In a tele-learning environment, learning which does requires the teacher and student to be online at the same time.

system administrator

Personal in overall charge of a computer system in an organisation.

system context diagram

High level DFD of a system.

System development lifecycle

The stages in the life time of an IT system, from its first proposal, through its design and creation, to its eventual phasing out.

Tab Separated Values

File format for transferring data, which stores fields and records in a plain text file, with fields separated by a tab character. See also CSV.

tab-delimited text files

File format for transferring data, which stores fields and records in a plain text file, with fields separated by a tab character. See also CSV.

table

In databases, a collection of records representing a type of item.

Tablet device

Portable device, often with a touch screen.

tactile feedback

Output from a computer system in the form of force, movement, or resistance.

tagging

Adding key words to an item such as a photo to describe its content.

tags

Keywords in HTML which are used to mark up a web page.

take-back scheme

Scheme operated by IT manufacturers to accept customers' old hardware for recycling at its end of life.

targeted advertising

Use of data about customers to determine which adverts they are most likely to find useful.

TB

See terabyte

TCP/IP

Transfer Control Protocol / Internet Protocol. Common protocol for LANs and the Internet.

technical documentation

Documentation intended for programmers and developers of an IT system.

tele-learning

Learning that occurs when the teacher and students are in separate geographical locations.

telecommuting

Working away from an organisation's main office or base, using portable computers.

telehealth

Using IT to perform medical consultations when the doctor and patient are in geographically separate locations.

telemedicine

Using IT to perform medical consultations when the doctor and patient are in geographically separate locations.

telesurgery

Using IT to perform surgery on a patient in a geographically separate location from the doctor.

teleworking

Working away from an organisation's main office or base, using portable computers.

template

A page which is used to include standard features (such as page numbers or a header) on each page of a document in a consistent manner.

Terabyte

Storage unit: 1024 gigabytes

terahertz

See Terahertz

test plan

List of all tests and test data that should be tried with a system.

text file

File format that stores characters using ASCII or Unicode encoding.

Text-to-speech

Accessibility feature for users with eyesight problems, reads text from the computer out loud.

thin client

Networking system whereby client computers rely on servers to perform their processing tasks.

third party cookie

Cookie left by a web site the user did not directly visit (usually by advert companies).

third party hosting

Use of a separate, specialist company to store and manage a web site.

third party payment service

See payment gateway.

THz

Unit of measurement for a processor's clock speed. 1000 GHz.

TIF

Lossless file format for images.

title attribute

HTML attribute that provides a text description of links.

TLS

System used to encrypt https web traffic.

Top Level Domain

The final part of a domain name, such as .com .net or .sv

top-level domain

Suffix at the end of a URL, such as .com or .org.

Touch pad

Input device commonly found on laptops instead of a mouse.

touch screen

Input device that lets the user touch areas of the display to perform tasks.

touch sensitive input

Input devices which allows a screen to be controlled with fingers rather than using a mouse or a keyboard.

trackball

Input device that uses a rotating ball to control the cursor.

tracking number

A number given to users when they order an item online, allowing them to see its progress from the retailer to their door.

tracks

Common output device in robotics.

training

Ensuring that users will be able to work with a new IT system.

training data

Example data used in a pattern recognition system.

Trans-border data flow

Transfer of data between countries.

Transport Layer Security

System used to encrypt https web traffic.

trojan horse

Malware which pretends to be a genuinely useful program to trick the user into using it.

true colour

Image with 24 bit colour depth.

TSV

File format for transferring data, which stores fields and records in a plain text file, with fields separated by a tab character. See also CSV.

Turing test

Proposed test to see if a computer is intelligent or not.

tutorial

A document which explains how to perform key tasks, step by step.

tutorials

Step by step help on using a system.

TXT

File format that stores characters using ASCII or Unicode encoding.

typography

The proficient use of fonts, font sizes, and font properties such as leading and kerning to display text in an appropriate manner.

UAV

An unmanned aerial vehicle often used by the military for surveillance operations.

unauthorised access

Gaining illegal access to a computer system

Unicode

Encoding system to store text, with support for multiple languages and alphabets, and thousands of characters. Compare ASCII.

Uninterruptible Power Supply

Backup power system which powers a computer if the mains electricity fails.

unique identification number

Used by cookies to help recognise return visitors to web sites.

Universal Product Code

A type of barcode.

Universal Serial Bus

Common interface for connecting peripheral devices including mice, printers, and digital cameras.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicle

An unmanned aerial vehicle often used by the military for surveillance operations.

UPC

See Universal Product Code

upload

To transfer data from a client to a server computer.

uploading

To transfer data from a client to a server computer.

UPS

See Uninterruptible Power Supply.

uptime

Measure of how long a computer system has been operating without restarting.

URL

Universal Resource Locator. Describes the location of an item, such as a web page, on the Internet.

USB

Common interface for connecting peripheral devices including mice, printers, and digital cameras.

user acceptance testing

Tests performed by a client before formally accepting an IT system from the developers.

user documentation

Documentation intended for users of an IT system, helping them understand and use it.

User interface

Method used to communicate with a computer system.

user manual

A document which explains to users how to use a computer system.

utility software

Software used to perform maintenance jobs such as defragmenting disks.

validation

Checks to ensure whether data is in the correct format.

variables

Components of a computer model which can be altered to vary the output.

vector graphics

Graphics which are stored as a series of mathematical shapes and properties that can be independently manipulated at any time.

verification

Checking whether data is correct - i.e. is the value entered in a field the actual value?

video CODECs (coder-decoders)

Software required to view certain compressed video and audio formats.

video conferencing

Use of video cameras and microphones to conduct a conversation over a network.

video editing software

Application software for creating and editing video.

Video On Demand

Television and films which can be streamed at any time from the Internet, rather than waiting for a TV broadcast.

viral advertising

Advertising on social media networks which spreads rapidly from user to user.

virtual actors

Animated characters used in films, created entirely using computer graphics software.

virtual globe

A 3D software map of the Earth, usually with layers of information added, similar to a GIS.

virtual keyboard

See soft keyboard

Virtual LAN

Network form by several LANs which are in separate geographical locations.

Virtual Learning Environment

A content management system (CMS) which allows teachers to upload lessons, worksheets, quizzes, and other class material, to be displayed on a web page.

virtual machine

A software implementation of a computer system, allowing one physical computer to run several 'virtual computers', each with their own independent operating system and application software.

virtual machines

A software implementation of a computer system, allowing one physical computer to run several 'virtual computers', each with their own independent operating system and application software.

Virtual Private Network

Allows a secure private connection over a public network, using an encrypted 'tunnel'. For example, a remote computer can securely connect to a LAN, as though it were physically connected.

virtual reality

A virtual world which the user views using a special headset, and may participate in using specialist input devices.

virtual reality headset

Primary output device used by a virtual reality system.

virtual world

3D environment in which character select an avatar and then explore. Sometimes used by companies for marketing purposes.

virtual worlds

3D environment in which character select an avatar and then explore. Sometimes used by companies for marketing purposes.

virtualisation

The process of using several virtual machines running on one computer to replace several separate physical computers.

Virus

Computer program which damages files and data spreads when infected programs are copied.

virus definition file

Used by anti-virus programs to recognise known viruses.

vishing

Phishing attacks committed using telephone calls or VoIP systems.

visualisation

Graphical or animated output from a computer model or simulation.

VLAN

Network form by several LANs which are in separate geographical locations.

VLE

A content management system (CMS) which allows teachers to upload lessons, worksheets, quizzes, and other class material, to be displayed on a web page.

VOD

Television and films which can be streamed at any time from the Internet, rather than waiting for a TV broadcast.

voice control

Use of spoken commands to control a computer.

voice controlled interface

Ability to operate a computer by issuing spoken commands.

Voice over Internet Protocol

System that lets users make telephone calls over the Internet.

voice recognition

Use of software to convert spoken words into text.

VoIP

See Voice over Internet Protocol.

volatile storage

Storage which loses its contents when the power is removed.

Vorbis

Lossy file format for audio.

Voter Verified Paper Audit Trails

An electronic voting system that produces a paper receipt of the vote cast, allowing a recount if necessary.

VPN

Allows a secure private connection over a public network, using an encrypted 'tunnel'. For example, a remote computer can securely connect to a LAN, as though it were physically connected.

vulnerability scanner

Software to scan a system for potential security problems.

VVPAT

An electronic voting system that produces a paper receipt of the vote cast, allowing a recount if necessary.

W3C

Organisation that manages standards on the world wide web.

WAN

Computer network over a large area, such as a country or several countries.

waterfall development

Development method that focuses on completing each stage of the SDLC for the entire project before moving onto the next.

watermarking

The process of adding an author name or logo into an image to identify its owner and prevent intellectual property theft.

WAV

Lossless file format for audio.

Web 2.0

Refers to web pages which allow user interaction and collaboration.

Web 3.0

Proposed evolution of the world wide web.

web analytics

Software to measure and display statistics about a web site's visitors, such as pages visited, durations of visits, and web browsers used.

web bug

Technique used by spammers to detect if an email address is valid or not.

Web Content Management System

Software which allows management of a web site without web design skills. Content is stored in a database and published in different ways, such as on a web site, in a printed booklet, or in different languages. Sometimes called a WebCMS.

web crawler

Software which scans web pages looking for key words, so search engines can index them.

web development software

Application software for creating HTML pages for web sites.

web hosting

The process of housing or storing a web site, making it available to the public, and managing the servers on which it runs.

web server

Computer on a network that stores web pages.

web spider

Software which scans web pages looking for key words, so search engines can index them.

web traffic analysis

Software to measure and display statistics about a web site's visitors, such as pages visited, durations of visits, and web browsers used.

Web-based software

See cloud computing.

Webcam

Input device used to record video, often found in laptop computers.

WebCMS

Software which allows management of a web site without web design skills. Content is stored in a database and published in different ways, such as on a web site, in a printed booklet, or in different languages. Sometimes called a WebCMS.

WEEE

A European law which requires electronic equipment manufacturers to accept back their equipment for recycling at its end of life.

weighted filter

A filter which considers the words in a page as well as the context in which they appear.

WEP

Wired Equivalence Protocol. Wireless network encryption system.

What-if scenario

Use of a computer model to test the results of different situations and scenarios.

wheels

Common output device in robotics.

white list

List of allowed web sites in a filtering system.

Wide Area Network

Computer network over a large area, such as a country or several countries.

WiFi

Most common type of wireless connection.

wiki

Type of web page that any visitor can edit.

WiMax

Long range wireless network technology.

wired soldiers

Information technology designed to improve a soldier's understanding of the battlefield around him.

wireless hotspot

The area around a WiFi router where wireless access is available.

wizard

Step by step help system to guide a user through a task.

WLAN

Wireless LAN. A LAN what allows WiFi connections.

WMA

Lossy file format for video.

word processing software

Application software for creating written documents such as letters or essays.

World Wide Web Consortium

Organisation that manages standards on the world wide web.

worm

Malicious software which replicates itself and spreads between computer systems and over networks.

WPA

Wireless Protected Access. Wireless network encryption system.

WPA2

Wireless Protected Access 2. Wireless network encryption system.

WWW

World Wide Web - a series of interlinked multimedia pages stored on the Internet.

WYSIWYG

What You See Is What You Get. Refers to programs that present their output onscreen exactly as it will appear when printed.

XML

A markup language used to describe data, storing the information as plain text files.

YB

See Yottabyte.

yottabyte

Storage unit: 1024 zettabyes

ZB

See Zettabyte

zettabyte

Storage unit: 1024 exabytes

zip file

Compressed file format for general data.

zombie

Computer which has been compromised by malware and is part of a botnet.

Client testimonials

Technical glossary

domain names

Human readable names given to web sites, such as www.itgstextbook.com

View computer dictionary