Home Dictionary Acronyms News Search Links


This page contains information that can be used by students at all levels.


Analog to Digital Converter. This is an electronic device that converts a signal from an analog signal into a digital signal. Analog signals can come from sources such as a microphone or a telephone line. The signal is changed to digital so that it can be processed by the computer.


Artificial Intelligence. This is a branch of computer science devoted to the use of computers to simulate human reasoning. Expert systems, natural language systems and perception systems (robots) are examples of the practical application of AI.


Arithmetic Logic Unit. This is the "calculator" part of a CPU. It is responsible for carrying out arithmetic and logic operations. For example it can add two numbers together. It can also compare two numbers and say which is bigger.


American Standard Code for Information Interchange. This is a set of codes that are used to represent letters and numbers. The computer stores everything in numerical form. An alphanumeric character like "A" is changed into the ASCII code number 65. The number 65 is used inside the computer to represent "A".  All the keys on the keyboard have an ASCII code.  This system uses 7 bits to represent a character.  this means that there are 128 different ASCII characters possible.  There are several variations of ASCII that can represent more characters by using all 8 bits of a byte to represent a character.


Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line. This is a technology used for access to the internet.  ADSL will let us download information quickly and upload data at a slower rate. ADSL is suitable for web browsing where we want to download pages to our computer but upload infrequently. E-speed uses ADSL technology. Users may use a single telephone line for both data and voice communication. ADSL access is much faster than modem access.  It also has the advantage that the same telephone line can be used for both talking and internet at the same time.


Beginners All Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code. BASIC is a general purpose computer programming language.


Computer Aided Design. CAD software is used to create diagrams.  We might create a house plan, a road system plan or a model of a motor vehicle.  We use a CAD package on a computer instead of a piece of paper and a pencil. CAD packages are popular because it is more efficient for a draftsman to use a CAD package than to use pencil and paper. 


Computer Aided Learning. This is a general term that describes the use of computer programs for training people. A keyboard tutor program is an example of a CAL software application. CAL software is usually interactive and uses a multimedia interface.


Computer Aided Manufacturing. The use of computers to automate some aspect of a manufacturing process. Computers are often used to control the machines that carry out the manufacturing of products in a factory.


Compact Disk - Recordable. This type of disk can be written to once and then read many times. CD-R are for input and output. However, we can only add information to the CD-R. Once data is written to the disk it can not be erased.


Computer Numerical Control.  This is the use of computers to control machinery.  We can "program" a mahine to do a task by entering numbers into a numeric keypad.


Compact Disk - Read Only Memory. A CD that can be read from but not written to. CD-ROMs are for input only. Software installation CDs and music CDs are of type CD-ROM.  CD-ROMs are popular because they have a much higher capacity and greater reliability than a floppy disk.


Compact Disk - Rewritable. This disk may be written to and then overwritten again at a later stage. CD-RW are used for input and output.  They are often used for downloading large files such as music files from the internet and for making backups.  


Common Business Oriented Language. This is a high level programming language that is used to make business application software. Though old and out of favor as a programming language, it is still very important because there are so many old programs that have not be rewritten in more modern languages.


Central Processing Unit. The electronic component of a computer system that processes data. The CPU can carry out arithmetic and logic operations. It controls the hardware of a computer system and stores data and instructions in memory.


Digital to Analog converter. This electronic component converts a digital signal into analog. A sound card contains a DAC that converts digital computer data into equivalent analog so that it can be sent to a speaker.


Database Management System. Software used to manage a database. Microsoft Access, FoxPro, SQL Server and Oracle are examples of DBMS software packages. There are three main types of database - relational databases, hierarchical databases and object oriented databases. Relational databases are the most popular at the moment.  Microsoft Access is a relational DBMS.


Direct Memory Access.   In normal circumstances, when we load a file, data is transferred from a disk to the processor and then from the processor to RAM. Some computers are able to transfer data directly from a storage device such as a disk drive straight into RAM.   This feature, called DMA, speeds up the computer since the processor is not required to participate in transferring data and is free to do other processing. 


Data Manipulation Language.  The language used by a DBMS to manipulate a database.  The DML is a list of statements that let us retrieve, manipulate, erase and modify data in database tables.


Desktop Publishing. This software is used to generate information that is to be published.  We would use a DTP package to prepare a book for printing in a publishing house.  You can think of a DTP program as an organizer and presenter of resources from different applications. The DTP can bring together charts, photographs and nice artwork in a pamphlet or advertising brochure. DTP packages contain many wonderful text and graphics handling features that are not available on a word processor.  A word processor is used to create information but a DTP is used to format existing information in frames on an electronic page.


Extended Binary Coded Decimal Interchange Code.  A coding system like ASCII that represents alphanumeric characters with numbers.  This coding system is used by IBM on large computers.  Most PC's represent alphanumeric characters using ASCII.


Electronic Data Interchange. Information is transmitted between organizations electronically instead of in hardcopy paper form. A business may make purchases from a supplier using EDI. Another name that means nearly the same thing is B2B which describes business to business communication.  


Electronic Funds Transfer. Financial transactions are carried out electronically without the use of cash. Funds may be debited from one account and credited to another account when we make a purchase with a debit card.  Payments can be made very quickly over the internet or some other network.


Electronic Funds Transfer at Point Of Sale. This is how we pay when we use a debit card to make a purchase in a shop. The transaction takes place at the point of sale (cashier) and the transaction is processed electronically without the use of cash.


Electronic Point Of Sale terminal.  This is a terminal where we can pay for products.  The terminal uses bar code readers or scanners to input information about products.  The terminal is linked to a computer that contains information such as pricing. People may pay for goods with cash, debit cards or credit cards.  EPOS terminals are designed to process transactions very accurately and more efficiently than manual terminals - which is why there are so many of them found in big stores and supermarkets.  


Formula Translator. A high level programming language preferred by the scientific community. This language is a little bit difficult for beginners to learn.  Traditionally, Fortran has been used by engineers who wanted to make programs which automate calculation of formulas. 


Garbage In Garbage Out.   If the data collected for processing is inaccurate then the information produced by processing is likely to be incorrect as well.  For instance if we put "hello" into a program that is supposed to calculate the area of a circle then the program will not work.  Making sure that input errors do not occur is an important feature of good computer programs.


Graphical User Interface. This is an interface that uses graphics (icons) rather than text for the user to interact with. The Microsoft Windows interface is a GUI. See WIMP also for another example of a GUI.


Hypertext Markup Language. This is the language used to create web pages. Web pages are created for use on the WWW.   The screen you are looking at right now is a written in HTML.


Immediate Access Store. One of several names for the main memory of a computer. Other names include primary storage and RAM.


Integrated Circuit.  These are electrical circuits with all the components placed on a single small circuit board.  There are some different categories of IC.  SSI (small scale integration) means that a chip has less than 100 electronic components on it.  MSI (medium-scale integration): From 100 to 3,000 electronic components per chip.  LSI (large-scale integration): From 3,000 to 100,000 electronic components per chip.  VLSI (very large-scale integration): From 100,000 to 1,000,000 electronic components per chip.  ULSI (ultra large-scale integration): More than 1 million electronic components per chip.  Nearly all modern chips (such as PC processor chips) use VLSI or ULSI technology.


Information Communication Technology. The topic includes networking as well as the use of computer technology for handling information.


International Standard Book Number. This is a barcode used to identify a book. The code includes information such as the publisher code and an individual book code.  There is also a check digit that is used by software to determine if a scanner has been able to successfully scan the ISBN.


Integrated Services Digital Network. This is a set of standards for using telephones to carry data and voice information. Users, accessing existing telephone lines, can transmit and receive digital signals. These lines have high bandwidth and allow users to use a single line for both speech and data at the same time.


Internet Service Provider. A company that provides access to the internet. An ISP may also host your site so that you will have a presence on the internet as well as access to it. Brunet is the name of a ISP company in Brunei.


Information Technology Technology related to the use of computers for the storage and processing of information. This subject includes office automation and so on.


Kilobyte.  One kilobyte = 210 bytes.  210 = 1024.


Local Area Network This is a small computer network. Usually this means that the distance between any two networked computers is less than about 500m. The exact distance depends upon the type of hardware being used. The allowed distance between computers connected with copper wire is less than the allowable distance if fibre optic cable is used.


Liquid Crystal Display A "thin" display that does not use much power. Laptop and notebook computers use LCD displays. LCD displays are found on many electronic devices including remote controls, calculators and digital thermometers.


Least Significant Bit.  This is the bit at the right hand end of a byte.  It is called the LSB because it has the lowest numerical value.  ASCII uses only 7 bits to represent characters.  The remaining bit can be used for error checking when data is transferred from one place to another.  THe LSB or the MSB is often used as the parity bit.  Parity checking is one way of checking for data transmission errors - there are many others which are much better at detecting errors.


Large Scale Integration.  From 3,000 to 100,000 electronic components are placed on a single IC chip. 


Magnetic Ink Character Recognition This is technology that is used to read magnetic ink. Banks use magnetic ink.   Account information is printed on cheques using magnetic ink.  This is as an anti forgery measure since magnetic ink can not be photocopied.  And it is a way of increasing efficiency within the bank since cheques can be read automatically by MICR equipment instead of having to be processed manually.


MPEG 3.  A format for sound files (music). The format was developed by an organization called the Moving Pictures Expert Group (MPEG).


Most Significant Bit.  This is the bit at the left hand end of a byte.  It is called the MSB because it has the greatest numerical value.


Network Interface Card.  A card that is used to connect a PC to a network. The card is responsible for organizing information into a series of signals (called a packet) that can be sent over the network.


Optical Character Recognition OCR is used to reduce the amount of time required copy typing documents. A scanned image is read by the OCR software. Any text that is found is put into a text document inside the computer. Some OCR programs are able to recognise hand writing. The software is able to tell the difference between word and pictures.


Optical Mark Recognition OMR is used for reading forms that have been filled in by people. Multi-choice question sheets can be read by OMR software.


Personal computer.  A single user computer made for personal use.


Point Of Sale.  This refers to the place in a shop where a transaction takes place.  Related terms are EFTPOS and EPOS.


Random Access Memory. This type of memory chip holds data only while power is supplied to the computer. The contents of RAM may be changed.


Red Green Blue.  This is a type of technology used in colour computer monitors.  All colours must be generated by combining the three colours red, green and blue.  This is different to the way television pictures are generated.  Television screens use a composite video signal with all the colours already mixed before they get to the television.


Read Only Memory. This type of memory chip holds data and instructions permanently. A small set of instructions called the BIOS (Basic Input Output System) is stored inside a ROM chip on the motherboard.


Repetitive Strain Injury.  This is an injury that is caused by doing the same activity for long periods of time without having enough rest. RSI is common amongst people who do a lot of keyboarding.


Structured Query Language.   A language used for accessing and otherwise interacting with a database. It is common to generate an SQL query when we want information from a database.


Tagged Image File Format. This is a format for storing digital pictures. It is neither all that common or all that popular since it can be hard to read files in this format. Other formats that are more popular are BMP, GIF and JPG.


Transaction Processing System. An information system responsible for processing the day to day transactions of a business. Mostly these are financial transactions such as sales and purchases. Transactions are entered and then either committed or rolled back. Transactions can only be committed permanently to a database if all the changes required have been completed successfully. If any part of the transaction can not be completed then the transaction is "undone" with a roll back.


Universal Product Code.  This is a bar code label that is placed on products to identify them.  The bar code is read by a scanner at a POST (Point Of Sale Terminal).  The bar code contains information about the product such as the country of origin, a code for the manufacturer, a code for the item and a check digit.  Note that the UPC does not include pricing information.  A UPC is often printed onto the product at the time of manufacturing.  The retail price is not known at the time of manufacturing. 


Uninterruptible Power Supply.   Basically a battery! If the main power to your computer is interrupted then the battery will take over. A UPS is important for businesses that can not afford to have their computer stop working. The UPS receives a trickle charge from the main power supply ensuring that the battery is always full and ready to take over when the main power stops.


Universal Serial Bus This is a small rectangular port that is used to connect peripherals such as scanners, printers and digital cameras. A PC will have 4 or six USB ports. USB ports replace the parallel and serial ports used in PCs for the last several years.


Ultra Large-Scale Integration.   More than 1 million electronic components are stored on an IC chip.  Modern computer components, such as processors, use either ULSI or VLSI technology.


Visual Display Unit A VDU is a screen. Screens can use CRT or LCD technology. CRT VDUs are still more common than LCD screens because they cost less.


 Very Large-Scale Integration. From 100,000 to 1,000,000 electronic components are placed upon a single IC chip.


Wide Area Network A network that operates over a wide geographical area. Actually any network which connects computers over more than about half a kilometer is going to need to use WAN technology.