Following is a glossary of computer terms for the Summer Institute. With permission portions of this glossary have been adapted from the glossary in Crossing the Internet Threshold: an Instructional Handbook, Library Solutions Press: Berkeley, CA. 1993.
When you use a particular computer system, you are given an account. Associated with the account are a unique username and a password. When you start to use a system, you type these to show that you are a legitimate user of the system.
A circuit board that can be inserted into a computer to provide optional functions, such as an interface for a hard disk or additional memory.
A unique name (or number) identifying a computer user or computer is called an address. Addresses are used in network communications to transmit messages to a particular person or machine. In IP (Internet Protocol) form, it consists of a series of numbers, separated by dots, which enables a machine in one part of the world to contact another (much like a personal zip code). Also, technical reference to a specific location in a computer's memory.
A way of representing data as a continuous, varying signal wave.
A form of FTP which allows unregistered users access to files. When using, one logs in as anonymous and uses one's Internet address as the password.
A database and related programs giving the user information about the contents of various archives.
Collections of files related to a particular subject, which are stored on a computer and made available for distributions to the Internet community, usually via anonymous FTP.
Advanced Research Projects Administration. Department of Defense network to link contracting scientists and institutions for sharing information, forerunner of and prototype for protocols of today's Internet, such as TCP/IP. Acknowledging its Defense Department origin, also called DARPANET.
Individual contributions to a Usenet newsgroup which have been given the standard Usenet header.
American Standard Code for Information Interchange. A standard method for encoding characters--"text" files are usually ASCII files. ASCII represents upper and lower case letters, the numerals, and punctuation in 7 bits.
The width to height ratio of an object. The aspect ratio of pixels on a screen affects the screen's ability to represent circles and other images accurately.
Attribute a characteristic of an ENTITY. For example, if entities are doctoral dissertations, an attribute of such entities is the degreegranting institution.
A high speed connection within a network which connects shorter (usually slower) branches. The NSFNet is generally considered to be the backbone of the Internet in the U.S.
A measure of capacity and speed of the links between computing devices. Measured in kilobits per second (Kbps), megabits per second (Mbps), or gigabits per second (Gbps).
A file that contains a series of operating system commands.
A measure of transmission speed. Technically the baud rate is the number of times the communication changes state each second. Most people use the baud rate and bits per second interchangeably.
See Bulletin Board System.
Bibliographic Database a DATABASE containing BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORDs. BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD an INDEX RECORD standing for, or representing, a journal article, book, or other document.
All files which are not text files are considered binary files. Any combination of bits is possible within a binary file.
Because It's Time NETwork. Cooperative education and research network which primarily provides e-mail services.
BInary digiT. The smallest unit of information stored by digital computers, usually represented by a 1 (one) or 0 (zero).
A method of generating images by creating a one-for-one correspondence between bits in memory and pixels on the screen. In color graphics, three or more bits are required in the bit map to represent red, green, and blue values of an individual pixel.
See Adapter Card.
Passages of text that are used over and over without modification.
A statement which can be evaluated as true or false. For example, "Earth = the Moon" would be evaluated as false. Boolean expressions work with logical operators.
An algebra that permits operations on sets of elements. Principal Boolean operators are AND (INTERSECTION), OR (UNION), and NOT (DIFFERENCE).
A multiword DESCRIPTOR for which an entry in the INVERTED INDEX has been made as a character string, including any blank or other special characters. A bound descriptor is an example of a PHRASEINDEXED FIELD.
A type of transmission which conveys text, data, and video or audio signals simultaneously.
The cause of improper operation of a computer or program. There can be a bug in hardware or software.
Building Blocks Search Strategy
The most commonly used STRATEGY for online searching, in which majors FACETS of the search problem are identified and terms are selected to represent each facet. These terms are combined with BOOLEAN OR, for each facet. The facets themselves are then combined with Boolean operators, usually AND.
Bulletin board system (BBS)
A computer with a modem that answers incoming telephone calls. Nearly all bulletin board systems allow the caller to read and leave messages; many allow the caller to send or receive files as well.
The smallest unit of information processed by a computer, usually 8 bits in length. Also, the amount of space most often used to store an alphanumeric character.
Computer Aided Design or Computer Aided Drafting. The use of a computer in producing technical drawings such as blueprints.
See Adapter Card.
From the French for International Telegraph and Telephone Consultative Committee. The international committee responsible for most international communications standards, such as ISDN.
Compact Disk-Read Only Memory. A small, polymer coated, usu. aluminum disk, which stores large amounts of data and is read by a laser.
Central processing unit (CPU)
The brain of a computer. The central processing unit contains circuits that execute instructions and control the other units of a computer. Note that this "brain" usually has only enough memory to store a few instructions at a time.
Characters per second (CPS)
A measure of the rate at which data is transferred or printed by a printer.
An index listing all publications appearing in a set of source publications that cite a given publication in their bibliographies.
Citation Pearl Growing
A search STRATEGY that identifies vocabulary elements for the representation of FACETS by examining INDEX RECORDS associated with documents that are known to be relevant or pertinent to a search problem and by selecting search terms from these records.
Cited Reference Search
A search for all documents citing a given document in their bibliographies. See also CITATION INDEX.
A program running on a computer which requests services from another program, often called a "server," and usually running on a remote computer.
An online interactive computer system in which the search communicates with the system using a COMMAND LANGUAGE.
A FORMAL LANGUAGE for providing instructions to a computer system in an online, interactive mode. Command languages have a welldefined vocabulary, SYNTAX, and logical structure.
The ability of hardware and software from different vendors to work together.
To make a file smaller by removing repeated or unnecessary information and by employing one of a number of algorithms which summarize patterns in the data being compressed.
An abstract idea. Concepts are represented by SYMBOLS. CONTROLLED VOCABULARY an artificial language for the representation of ATTRIBUTES of ENTITIES.
A portion of the screen reserved for status and information.
See Central Processing Unit.
A Bitnet utility which enables Bitnet users to send messages to recipients on the Internet.
Posting a message to several groups or listservs. Originated in Usenet, where the same message is easily sent to a number of newsgroups. Because of redundancy, this is discouraged and, at least, should be identified at the beginning of the article or message as a cross-posting.
The fear of computers.
A collection of data or information. As the term is usually employed in online information retrieval, it refers to a collection of INDEX RECORDS in machinereadable form.
Database management system (DBMS)
A set of programs that provide for the input, retrieval, formatting, modification, output, transfer, and maintenance of information in a database.
A formatted set of electronic data used in communication between computer systems. The datagram consists of two parts: the data proper, which may be part of a longer message; and the header, which indicates the source, the destination, the type of data, and other information.
The standard value or setting that a program uses if the user does not specify a value.
An element of a CONTROLLED VOCABULARY, as listed in a THESAURUS.
Memory-resident utility programs that provide convenient services such as an electronic calendar, phone dialer, calculator, or note pad.
The Boolean difference between two sets of element (A NOT B) is the set of elements present in set A but not also present in set B.
Files on many computer systems are grouped together in directories. Directories are usually hierarchical and files and "subdirectories" are said to be "in" a directory. Files common to a program or topic are often organized into separate directories or subdirectories.
A service on a network giving information about sites, computers, resources, or users.
Most often a round platter coated with magnetically chargeable particles. As this disk spins rapidly, data is stored as magnetic patterns. Recently, disks using optical instead of magnetic means to store data have been introduced.
A classification category used for identifying computers in a network. The names of successive domains are used to form a unique name by which the computer is known to the network.
A structured name for a computer in a network, in the form kcvax1.kenyon.edu. Uniqueness is ensured by having a hierarchy of naming authorities, each one responsible for approving the names in its immediate domain.
Disk Operating System. See MS-DOS.
Quickly pressing a mouse button twice in order to make a selection or give a command.
The process of transferring files to your local machine using communications software. Often the last step necessary to have your own copy of a file.
A relatively simple program used to create and modify files. See also Text editor, Graphics editor.
Electronic mail; online messaging services between computer users.
A character-based drawing used to convey emotion. Smiley, :) , is the most common and is used to convey that a comment is meant humorously. You are cautioned against overuse (e.g. more than once per paragraph). Other facial expressions, such as frowney :( , are less frequently encountered. These are but the most common examples of ASCII art--drawing pictures using keyboard/display characters.
A process by which one machine generates the input and/or output produced by another. This is a software capacity and, on the Internet, most frequently refers to emulating a certain type of terminal, such as the VT100 or a 3270 (input expected by IBM machines).
Any of a number of methods of encoding data to protect it.
A person with an information need. Endusers often employ information retrieval systems, either directly or through a search specialist.
An object about which information will be stored. See also ATTRIBUTE.
This is an Internet conundrum. On the Internet, escape is represented as C ] or ^] or sometimes C ] q . A X and C @ are other common forms. Although described as the "Internet escape key," it is usually a combination of keystrokes. It is not the E key on the MS-DOS machines and can vary from keyboard to keyboard and would be a separate key on Macintosh. It is commonly used to terminate a session with a remote machine, butdetermining the exact form as a function of keyboard can vary. HYTELNET provides a guide for various systems and keyboards.
A periodical distributed in electronic form.
The full text of a document available in electronic format (often through FTP).
European Academic Research Network. A European equivalent to BITNET. Uses BITNET-type protocols.
The standard highest level domain name used to identify educational institutions.
A concept group, consisting of terms that will be considered to be equivalent by a searcher for purposes of a given information need. Terms representing these concepts will be searched and the UNION of the resulting sets created using Boolean OR.
Frequently Asked Question(s). Usually, the list of questions and answers which cover "the basics" and the obscure-but-frequently-asked-about for a Usenet newsgroup or a listserv. The term may also be used to refer to a single question which is, or should be, on the list.
False Drop a retrieved document that is not relevant to the question motivating the search.
Fiber optic cable
A cable made from strands of glass that carries data in the form of pulses of light.
Field the data value associated with a particular ATTRIBUTE of a set of ENTITIES. For example, BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORDS invariably have a title field and an author field, among others.
A series of bits recognized by the operating system as meaningful. Programs and data are stored as files.
A simple network service which will report if a particular user is currently logged in, and often other information.
Computer software which is stored on a ROM chip. It is a combination of hardware and software which stays in one place, hence "firmware".
A vitriolic attack on the contributions of another (either ideas or ad hominem) to a group conference. As a preventative measure, a contributor of controversial material may figuratively don asbestos underwear or an asbestos overcoat when submitting a message.
An artificial, invented language of communication for application to a particular problem area. Examples are computer programming languages and COMMAND LANGUAGES for information retrieval.
Free, community-sponsored, computer-based information systems which are open to the public. Services may include electronic mail, Usenet news, and community services such as the library, government, and local organizational information. E.g., Cleveland Freenet: telnet to freenet-in-a.cwru.edu, or freenet-in-b.cwru.edu, or freenet-in-c.cwru.edu; and Youngstown FreeNet: telnet to yfn.ysu.edu (login: visitor).
Free Text Searching
A search mode in which titles, abstracts, full texts, or other natural language field of bibliographic or sources databases are searched using proximity operators.
File Transfer Protocol. A standard which allows for the moving of files from one computer to another utilizing TCP/IP. FTP also refers to the program which utilizes the FTP protocol to transfer files.
Full Text Searching in which the full texts of source documents are searchable on a free text basis.
A computer which connects two networks, often converting a message's protocol to one appropriate for the other network. Also used to refer in general to a system that provides direct access to other, remote networks or services.
A unit of storage roughly equal to one billion characters.
A program for editing pictures. Typical operations include drawing, moving, rotating, and enlarging items on the screen.
Client-server software providing flexible access to Internet resources; developed at the University of Minnesota.
Pronounced "gooey"; a Graphic User Interface, such as Microsoft Windows.
A disk which is made of an inflexible usually polymer substance used to store data. Such disks store more information, and usually cannot be removed from the disk drive. See disk.
Any physical piece of computer equipment.
A computer system with which you can hold an interactive session, or which is the source of network services.
A textual string which is mapped to an IP address, e.g., "kxcvax1.kenyon.edu".
A program that provides flexible connection to a variety of networked information resources including online public access catalogs.
A picture that represents an object such as a printer, program, trash can, or pad of paper.
A keyword, usually extracted from the text of a document, to represent an aspect of its contents.
In My Humble Opinion. Acronym or shorthand for "In my opinion," frequently used in e-mail, listservs and Usenet communications. It emphasizes that what follows is opinion rather than fact.
A concise representation or surrogate of an ENTITY from a particular point of view; the set of all values associated with the attributes of an ENTITY.
Information Retrieval System
A device interposed between an enduser of an information collection and the collection itself. The purpose of the system is to capture wanted items and filter out unwanted items from the information collection.
The BOOLEAN intersection of two sets of elements (A AND B) is the set of elements common to A and B.
A multimedia presentation (see Multimedia) in which the learner is given the opportunity to affect the course of the presentation, even to the extent of changing the presentation for subsequent learners.
INTERconnecting NETwork. The global network made up of smaller interconnected networks and which is based on the TCP/IP protocol. Also, with a small "i" any set of networks interconnected using TCP/IP.
A set of records created from a LINEAR FILE. Each record consists of an ATTRIBUTE and a list of all entities that are associated with that attribute.
A specially formulated and unique number assigned to Internet computers, (e.g., "188.8.131.52").
Integrated Services Digital Network. An evolving CCITT standard for a network capable of carrying voice, data, video, and other signals through a single telecommunications line.
Joint Academic Network. The academic and research network in the United Kingdom.
A measure of storage capacity equal to 1,024 bits.
A measure of storage equal to 1,024 bytes (or characters). Kilobyte is often abbreviated by K or KB.
KNOWledge roBOT. Program designed to search for files on the Internet. It is a registered trademark of the Corporation for National Research Initiatives.
A set of INDEX RECORDS, in which each record describes one item or ENTITY, arranged in an order based on the values of one or more ATTRIBUTES.
BITNET service (software) providing distributed messages that form conferences and allow the archiving of files and messages which can be searched and retrieved.
A word such as and, not, or or, that is used to determine the truth of falsity of a statement. See BOOLEAN LOGIC. See also PROXIMITY OPERATORS.
An opening procedure to identify yourself to a system as a legitimate user and begin a session. Normally, to login you need to give a valid username and password. The word "logon" is occasionally used. Also, a synonym for username on some systems.
A closing procedure to formally end a session with a system. Breaking a network connection will not necessarily result in logging you out. The word "logoff" is also used.
A post to a Usenet newsgroup which is intended to attract the attention of the gullible. Also, the "suckers" who respond to such articles.
The physical portion of a computer where data is stored while the computer is turned on. See also RAM, ROM.
An online interactive computer system in which at each step the computer user makes forced choices of actions from among several options offered by the system.
Any small computer based on a microprocessor.
A programmable circuit built on a single silicon chip.
The integrated presentation of textual audio and video information.
MicroSoft Disk Operating System. The most common operating system used by "IBM compatible" microcomputers.
A computer in a network responsible for keeping the hostname and IP address mapping tables, and for providing that information on request (usually to other machines, not people directly).
A language in active use by a community of human being, such as English. Contrast to FORMAL LANGUAGE.
NETwork etIQUETTE. Originated in Usenet Conventions covering acceptable behavior. Used especially in group contexts--such as listservs and Usenet.
Half of a byte, spec. the first (low order) or second (high order).
Network Information Center. Source of information on the network, for both people and machines. Examples include BITNIC (for BITNET) and the Department of Defense Network (DDN) NIC at NIC.DDN.MIL for the Internet in the U.S. which includes a registry of network users, WHOIS.
Network Operations Center. The invisible-to-the-user management for a specific network or network of networks.
A single computer within a network.
Optical Character Recognition. Optical character recognition devices allow computers to read printed information more reliably and faster than it can be typed.
Online Information Retrieval the process of using an INFORMATION RETRIEVAL SYSTEM in an online mode to satisfy and information need.
See ONLINE INFORMATION RETRIEVAL.
Online Public Access Catalog. An automated catalog with author, title, subject and other access points containing a library's holdings.
The master set of programs that manage the computer. Among other things, an operating system controls input and output to and from the keyboard, screen, disks, and other peripheral devices; loads and begins the execution of other programs; and manages the storage of data on disks.
Open Systems Interconnect. An internationally agreed upon set of standards for computer connection. In some ways it "competes" with TCP/IP. It is not yet widely used, especially in the United States.
A method of presenting windows on the screen that allows them to overlap one another, like objects stacked on top of a desk.
Pairwise Facets Search Strategy
A strategy in which the INTERSECTIONS of three or more FACETS (usually three) are created, a pair at a time. The UNION of the (Three) solution sets is then created to obtain the final solution.
The separating and sorting operations performed by a search service on a given data FIELD when the INVERTED INDEX is prepared from the linear file.
A communications connector on a computer suitable for attaching peripherals, such as a printer or a modem.
The action of submitting an article to a Usenet newsgroup, or to a BBS. Also, such an article or item. See article.
A standard language used in printing and displaying graphics and text. Developed by Adobe Systems, Inc.
Adapting software to run on a different machine or operating system. More broadly, to move something from one arena of activity to another (e.g., from Bitnet to Usenet).
Specific rules defining one part of the transmission and receipt of information across a data communications link. In sets, or suites, they govern communication between entities, including type, size, and format of data units.
An operator that makes it possible to search for two or more words in combination with one another, e.g., as a phrase, or to be present in the same field or paragraph. Proximity operators are used principally to conduct searches in natural language fields such as title, abstract, or full text.
Random Access Memory. RAM is memory built from silicon chips that is used to store programs and data temporarily before and/or after they are being processed.
Meaning new or interactive, used in contrast to "batch." As a command or message is issued, it is executed or sent to its destination. For example, one of the requirements of OhioLINK was that it be updated in real-time, e.g. that a cataloging or circulation record would be immediately available on the system rather than placed in a buffer from which it would be added to the system overnight.
See INDEX RECORD.
Requests For Comments. The documents which contain the standards and other information for the TCP/IP protocols and the Internet in general. Also, one such document. They are available at several sites through anonymous FTP.
Remote LOGIN. A program which allows remote login, much like Telnet, typically to a machine on which you have an account with the same username and password. RLOGIN usually provides more information to the remote computer than Telnet does.
Read-Only Memory. ROM is internal memory that stores information permanently. Thus, the information in ROM can be read but cannot be changed.
A machine which routes datagrams within a network. See routing.
Finding an effective or efficient path through a network to a destination computer. Routing is almost always handled by the network or communication software.
Read The Manual. Abbreviation used to inform someone that they could have answered their own question by consulting the appropriate (usu. obvious) documentation.
A program (or generically, a computer) that provides services, such as files or access to a database, when they are requested by a (usually remote) "client" program or computer.
See Emoticon. :)
Simple Mail Transfer Protocol. The Internet standard protocol for transferring electronic mail messages.
Referring to postal or delivery services (such as the U. S. Postal Service) which physically convey a message, in contrast to e-mail.
The generic term for any program or programs.
The precision with which concepts can be represented in a given CONTROLLED VOCABULARY or in NATURAL LANGUAGE.
The rate at which a computing device operates. Speed is not an overall measure of how fast a computer system is (more at Bandwidth).
A word considered to have no value for indexing or retrieval purposes, and for which no entries are made in the INVERTED INDEX.
An overall plan or approach to a search problem.
Successive Facet Strategy
Any search strategy that relies on the formation and combination of FACETS one at a time, usually with Boolean ANd. The search normally terminates before all the facets of the problem have been represented and combined.
A means of representing a CONCEPT. The concept represented by a symbol is called its meaning.
A communications protocol that sends data in packets that do not contain timing signals.
The format which must be followed for the computer to recognize statements or commands.
A computer and the devices (monitor, disk drives, keyboard,...) to which it is directly attached. See also Operating System.
Online, real-time exchange of written messages, usually one character at a time.
Standards that represent l.544 megabits (Tl) and 45 megabits (T3) per second transmission speeds in data communications.
Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol. The common designation for the Internet suite of protocols.
Internet protocol providing interactive connection to a remote computer. Also, the name of the program implementing the protocol.
A piece of equipment which provides for interactive communication with a computer. Most commonly, this is a keyboard and a monitor, providing only the most basic functions of each.
A program which allows for the generation and modification of a text file. The major difference between a text editor and a word processor is that word processors have more features for formatting text and providing fancy output.
Usually, a file which contains only ASCII characters.
A CONTROLLED VOCABULARY showing relationships between terms and developed from a dynamic, growing document collection. See also DESCRIPTOR.
A method of displaying windows in which no two windows overlap.
A version of the Telnet software which allows connection to IBM mainframes by emulating a popular IBM terminal, the "3270" terminal.
Word used to describe a program action that occurs automatically and usually without the user being aware of it. For example, the details of how a file is stored on the tracks and sectors of a disk are transparent to the user.
A search on a piece of a longer world or phrase, usually its leftmost portion.
The BOOLEAN union of two sets of element (A OR B) is the set of elements present in A or in B or in both A and B.
An operating system available for a wide range of computers. Originally developed at AT&T Bell Labs.
To transfer files from your local machine to another using communications software.
A piece of hardware is upwardly compatible if it can do everything the previous model could. System software is upwardly compatible if it supports all of the application programs available for the previous release.
The set of people who exchange articles tagged with one or more universally-recognized labels, called "newsgroups" (or "groups" for short). From "What is Usenet?", a Usenet FAQ.
A means of communication for people with common interests. Usenet NEWS is arranged into newsgroups. Messages, called articles, can be contributed to these newsgroups. More at Usenet, Article.
The person using a computer, or computing device. Generically, anybody using anything.
A protocol for communicating between the computer and the user.
Username or User ID
The unique name by which you are known to a computer and, in turn, other users of that computer.
Unix to Unix Copy Program. A networking protocol with less functionality than TCP/IP which is used by Usenet.
Virtual Array eXtension. A high performance computer system manufactured by Digital Equipment Corporation.
Very Easy Rodent-Oriented Net-wide Index to Computerized Archives. A recent (late 1992) index of Gopher servers with increasing sophistication--such as adding Boolean capabilities.
Virtual Memory System. An operating system used by Digital Equipment Corporation's VAX computers.
A standard terminal type, supported by many computer systems, and emulated by many terminals or personal computers which are not themselves VT1OO terminals.
Wide Area Information Server. Client-server software providing searching of and retrieval from various databases. Based on Z39.50 protocols and developed by Thinking Machines, Inc.
Wild card character
A character which specifies that "anything" could go in its place. A character used to specify a whole category of items.
A region of a screen through which part of a file or some data in memory can be viewed. Some programs allow windows to be split into several parts each called windows panes.
Usually a specific reference to Microsoft Windows graphical user interface.
A FIELD PARSED in such a way that an entry is made in the INVERTED INDEX for every nonSTOPWORD appearing in the field.
World-Wide Web (W3)
A system which provides hypertext access to a large universe of documents via the Internet. W3 may be accessed from many points (ex. subject area or type of service), since it is not hierarchical.
What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get. Refers to programs that attempt to make screen output and paper output look the same.
A data communications protocol developed to govern how data passes into and out of public data communications networks such as Telnet and Tymnet.
The OSI model which is intended to replace SMTP.
A UNIX-based windowing environment.
A U.S. based protocol (with international, OSI, counterparts) that provides for the exchange of information, such as full text or catalog records, between dissimilar computer systems.