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Technical support

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


  • pixel - The pixel (a word invented from "picture element") is the basic unit of programmable color on a computer display or in a computer image.
  • pixilated - Pixilated, an adjective derived from pixie (a fairy elf), describes someone who is whimsical or bemused, slightly drunk (tipsy), or, according to Webster's, "somewhat unbalanced mentally.
  • placeshifting - Placeshifting (or place shifting) is a technology that allows anyone with a broadband Internet connection to have video streams from their home television set or personal video recorder (PVR) forwarded for viewing at any location where they have a computer display and a high-speed Internet connection.
  • platform - In IT, a platform is any hardware or software used to host an application or service.
  • plesiochronous - Plesiochronous (pronounced plee-see-AH-krun-us, from Greek plesos, meaning close, and chronos, meaning time) is an adjective that describes operations that are almost, but not quite, in synchronization - in other words, almost synchronous.
  • plug-in - Plug-in applications are programs that can easily be installed and used as part of your Web browser.
  • Polish notation (prefix notation) - Polish notation, also known as prefix notation, is a symbolic logic invented by Polish mathematician Jan Lukasiewicz in the 1920's.
  • polled interrupt - In a computer, a polled interrupt is a specific type of I/O interrupt that notifies the part of the computer containing the I/O interface that a device is ready to be read or otherwise handled but does not indicate which device.
  • portal - Portal is a term, generally synonymous with gateway, for a World Wide Web site that is or proposes to be a major starting site for users when they get connected to the Web or that users tend to visit as an anchor site.
  • portrait - In computer printing, portrait is a mode in which the printer orients content for reading across the shorter length (the width) of the sheet of paper.
  • POST (Power-On Self-Test) - When power is turned on, POST (Power-On Self-Test) is the diagnostic testing sequence that a computer's basic input/output system (or "starting program") runs to determine if the computer keyboard, random access memory, disk drives, and other hardware are working correctly.
  • pounds per square inch (PSI) - PSI is commonly used to measure the pressure of gasses (pneumatic pressure) or liquids (hydraulic pressure).
  • power user - A power user, also called a super user, is someone whose computer skills are better than those of an organization's average end user.
  • predictive technology - Predictive technology is a body of tools capable of discovering and analyzing patterns in data so that past behavior can be used to forecast likely future behavior.
  • printed circuit board (PCB) - A printed circuit board (PCB) is the board base for physically supporting and wiring surface-mounted and socketed components in most electronics.
  • probability - Probability is a branch of mathematics that deals with calculating the likelihood of a given event's occurrence, which is expressed as a number between 1 and 0.
  • problem program - Now seldom used, the term problem program is used to distinguish a computer program that directly supports a user application from an operating system, a utility, or any other underlying support programming.
  • process hollowing - Process hollowing is a security exploit in which an attacker removes code in an executable file and replaces it with malicious code.
  • product - In information technology, a product is something (for example, a software application) that is created and then made available to customers, usually with a distinct name or order number.
  • program - In computing, a program is a specific set of ordered operations for a computer to perform.
  • project management - Project management is the discipline of using established principles, procedures and policies to successfully guide a project from conception through completion.
  • Project planning: What is it and 5 steps to create a plan - Project planning is a discipline addressing how to complete a project in a certain timeframe, usually with defined stages and designated resources.
  • propagation delay - Propagation delay is the amount of time required for a signal to be received after it has been sent; it is caused by the time it takes for the signal to travel through a medium.
  • propeller head (or propellor head, prop head, prophead) - A propeller head (also spelled propellor head, and sometimes shortened to prop head or prophead) is jargon for someone who is exceptionally, perhaps weirdly bright or knowledgeable, especially in some technical field.
  • proportionality - In mathematics, proportionality indicates that two quantities or variables are related in a linear manner.
  • prototype - In software development, a prototype is a rudimentary working model of a product or information system, usually built for demonstration purposes or as part of the development process.
  • pseudo-random number generator (PRNG) - A pseudo-random number generator (PRNG) is a program written for, and used in, probability and statistics applications when large quantities of random digits are needed.
  • public sector - The public sector is the segment of an economic system that is controlled by government; it contrasts with the private sector, which is run by private citizens.
  • pulse amplitude modulation (PAM) - Pulse amplitude modulation (PAM) is the transmission of data by varying the amplitudes (voltage or power levels) of the individual pulses in a regularly timed sequence of electrical or electromagnetic pulses.
  • Q format - Q (number) format is a fixed-point method of coding fractional and whole integers for processing by a computer’s CPU or a digital signal processor (DSP).
  • quality - In an information technology product or service, quality is sometimes defined as "meeting the requirements of the customer.
  • quantum computing - Quantum computing is an area of study focused on the development of computer technologies based on the principles of quantum theory.
  • quantum internet - The quantum internet is a theoretical system of interconnected quantum computers that uses quantum signals to send information rather than radio waves.
  • quantum microphone - A quantum microphone is an extremely device that detects the smallest particles of sound, such as packets of vibrational energy called phonons.
  • quantum supremacy - Quantum supremacy is the experimental demonstration of a quantum computer's dominance and advantage over classic computers by performing calculations that were previously impossible at unmatched speeds.
  • quantum theory - Quantum theory is the theoretical basis of modern physics that explains the nature and behavior of matter and energy on the atomic and subatomic level.
  • qubit - A qubit is a quantum bit, the counterpart in quantum computing to the binary digit or bit of classical computing.
  • queries-per-second (QPS) - Queries-per-second (QPS) (or the query-per-second rate) is a measure of how much traffic a particular query server is handling at a given time.
  • queue - In general, a queue is a line of people or things waiting to be handled, usually in sequential order starting at the beginning or top of the line or sequence.
  • Quiz: Who Done IT? A Murder Mystery - How to take the quiz: - After reading the question, click on the answer that you think is correct.
  • radian - The radian is the Standard International (SI) unit of plane angular measure.
  • radian per second (rad/s or rad/sec) - The radian per second (symbolized rad/s or rad/sec) is the Standard International (SI) unit of angular (rotational) speed.
  • radian per second squared - The radian per second squared is the unit of angular (rotational) acceleration magnitude in the International System of Units (SI).
  • random numbers - Random numbers are numbers that occur in a sequence such that two conditions are met: ( the values are uniformly distributed over a defined interval or set, and (2) it is impossible to predict future values based on past or present ones.
  • raster graphics - Raster graphics are digital images created or captured (for example, by scanning in a photo) as a set of samples of a given space.
  • raw data (source data or atomic data) - Raw data (sometimes called source data, atomic data or primary data) is data that has not been processed for use.
  • read-only - Read-only is a file attribute which only allows a user to view a file, restricting any writing to the file.
  • read-only memory (ROM) - Read-only memory, or ROM, is a type of computer storage containing non-volatile, permanent data that, normally, can only be read, not written to.
  • real number - A real number is any element of the set R, which is the union of the set of rational numbers and the set of irrational numbers.
  • real time - Real time is a level of computer responsiveness that a user senses as sufficiently immediate or that enables the computer to keep up with some external process (for example, to present visualizations of the weather as it constantly changes).
  • real-time monitoring - Real-time (data) monitoring is the delivery of continuously updated information streaming at zero or low latency.
  • reboot (warm boot, cold boot) - To reboot is to restart a computer and reload the operating system.
  • refresh - In a computer display, to refresh is to redraw the image information from memory.
  • reliability - Reliability is an attribute of any computer-related component (software, or hardware, or a network, for example) that consistently performs according to its specifications.
  • remote-control software - Remote-control software is programming in a central or server computer that is used to control other computers (or their users) at a distance, either under the control of an administrator or at the request of the user.
  • request for quotation (RFQ) - A request for quotation (RFQ) is a document that an organization submits to one or more potential suppliers eliciting quotations for a product or service.
  • reseller - In information technology, a reseller is a company that typically purchases IT products or services from a product manufacturer, distributor or service provider and then markets them to customers.
  • resolution - In computers, resolution is the number of pixels (individual points of color) contained on a display monitor, expressed in terms of the number of pixels on the horizontal axis and the number on the vertical axis.
  • response time - According to the IBM Dictionary of Computing (which cites International Organization for Standardization Information Technology Vocabulary as the source), response time is: The elapsed time between the end of an inquiry or demand on a computer system and the beginning of a response; for example, the length of the time between an indication of the end of an inquiry and the display of the first character of the response at a user terminal.
  • return merchandise authorization (RMA) - An RMA (return merchandise authorization) is a numbered authorization provided by a mail-order merchant to permit the return of a product.
  • reverse-engineering - Reverse-engineering is the act of dismantling an object to see how it works.
  • RGB (red, green, and blue) - RGB (red, green, and blue) refers to a system for representing the colors to be used on a computer display.
  • RISC (reduced instruction set computer) - RISC (reduced instruction set computer) is a microprocessor that is designed to perform a smaller number of types of computer instructions so that it can operate at a higher speed (perform more millions of instructions per second, or MIPS).
  • Riven - Riven is the sequel to Myst, the best-selling puzzle-and-exploration computer game on CD-ROM from Broderbund.
  • robot - A robot is a machine designed to execute one or more tasks automatically with speed and precision.
  • robotics - Robotics is a branch of engineering that involves the conception, design, manufacture and operation of robots.
  • RoC (restart on crash) - RoC (restart on crash) is a functionality built into Windows that automatically restarts an operating system or application when it hangs, freezes or crashes.
  • ROI (return on investment) - Return on investment, or ROI, is a mathematical formula that investors can use to evaluate their investments and judge how well a particular investment has performed compared to others.
  • ROM emulation - ROM emulation is the process of copying data from a ROM (read-only memory) chip to a storage medium such as a hard disk or flash memory.
  • root cause analysis - Root cause analysis is a way to determine how a problematic event occurred by examining why, how and when the casual factors happened after the fact.
  • runbook - Runbooks are a set of standardized written procedures for completing repetitive IT processes within a company.
  • runt - In networks, a runt is a packet that is too small.
  • runtime system - A runtime system is an engine that translates a given programming language or languages into machine code.
  • sample rate - In developing an audio sound for computers or telecommunication, the sample rate is the number of samples of a sound that are taken per second to represent the event digitally.
  • Sarbanes-Oxley Act - The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 is a federal law that established sweeping auditing and financial regulations for public companies.
  • satellite constellation (satellite swarm) - A satellite constellation, also called a satellite swarm, is a system of satellites that work together to achieve a single purpose.
  • scalability - Scalability is the ability of a computer application or product (hardware or software) to continue to perform well when it (or its context) is changed in size or volume in order to meet a users need.
  • Schrodinger's cat - Schrödinger's cat is a famous hypothetical experiment designed to point out a flaw in the Copenhagen interpretation of superposition as it applies to quantum theory.
  • scientific method - The scientific method is the process of objectively establishing facts through testing and experimentation.
  • scientific notation (power-of-10 notation) - Scientific notation, also called power-of-10 notation, is a method of writing extremely large and small numbers.
  • search operator - A search operator (sometimes referred to as a search parameter) is a character or string of characters used in a search engine query to narrow the focus of the search.
  • searching - On the Internet, searching is just trying to find the information you need.
  • seat management - Seat management is a method of coordinating all the workstations in an enterprise network by overseeing the installation, operation, and maintenance of hardware and software at each workstation.
  • second (s or sec) - The second (s or sec) is the International System of Units (SI) unit of time measurement.
  • segmented memory - Segmented memory is a system of addressing computer memory, which may be physical or virtual and may be operating in real or protected mode.
  • sensor - A sensor is a device that detects and responds to some type of input from the physical environment.
  • sequential logic - Sequential logic is a form of binary circuit design that employs one or more inputs and one or more outputs, whose states are related by defined rules that depend, in part, on previous states.
  • serial - Serial means one event at a time.
  • serial presence detect (SPD) - When a computer is booted (started), serial presence detect (SPD) is information stored in anelectrically erasable programmable read-only memory (EEPROM) chip on a synchronous dynamic random access memory (SDRAM) memory module that tells thebasic input/output system (BIOS) the module's size, data width, speed, and voltage.
  • server stack - A server stack is the collection of software that forms the operational infrastructure on a given machine.
  • service-level management - Service-level management is the monitoring and management of the quality of service(QoS) of an entity's key performance indicators(KPIs).
  • service-oriented architecture (SOA) - Service-oriented architecture (SOA) is a software development model that allows services to communicate across different platforms and languages to form applications.
  • service-oriented integration (SOI) - SOI is also an abbreviation for Silicon-On-Insulator.
  • service-oriented management (SOM) - Service-oriented management (SOM) is the operational management of service delivery within a service-oriented architecture (SOA).
  • set - A set is a group or collection of objects or numbers, considered as an entity unto itself.
  • Shannon's Law - Shannon's Law, formulated by Claude Shannon, a mathematician who helped build the foundations for the modern computer, is a statement in information theory that expresses the maximum possible data speed that can be obtained in a data channel.
  • shebang (#!) - Among UNIX shell (user interface) users, a shebang is a term for the "#!" characters that must begin the first line of a script.
  • shift register - A shift register is a digital memory circuit found in calculators, computers, and data-processing systems.
  • Siebel - Siebel Systems is a prominent vendor of interoperable e-business software.
  • significant figures - The term significant figures refers to the number of important single digits (0 through 9 inclusive) in the coefficient of an expression in scientific notation.
  • virtual network functions (VNFs)

    Virtual network functions (VNFs) are virtualized tasks formerly carried out by proprietary, dedicated hardware.

  • network functions virtualization (NFV)

    Network functions virtualization (NFV) is a network architecture model designed to virtualize network services that have ...

  • overlay network

    An overlay network is a virtual or logical network that is created on top of an existing physical network.

  • encryption

    Encryption is the method by which information is converted into secret code that hides the information's true meaning.

  • X.509 certificate

    An X.509 certificate is a digital certificate that uses the widely accepted international X.509 public key infrastructure (PKI) ...

  • directory traversal

    Directory traversal is a type of HTTP exploit in which a hacker uses the software on a web server to access data in a directory ...

  • resource allocation

    Resource allocation is the process of assigning and managing assets in a manner that supports an organization's strategic ...

  • chief digital officer (CDO)

    A chief digital officer (CDO) is charged with helping an enterprise use digital information and advanced technologies to create ...

  • security audit

    A security audit is a systematic evaluation of the security of a company's information system by measuring how well it conforms ...

  • implementation

    Implementation is the execution or practice of a plan, a method or any design, idea, model, specification, standard or policy for...

  • first call resolution (FCR)

    First call resolution (FCR) is when customer service agents properly address a customer's needs the first time they call.

  • customer intelligence (CI)

    Customer intelligence (CI) is the process of collecting and analyzing detailed customer data from internal and external sources ...