Z94.3 - Computer & Information Systems

The goal of the subcommittee was to include computer and information systems terms commonly used by industrial engineers.  The subcommittee reviewed a number of established sources in determining the terms and definitions to be included in this section.  The primary sources utilized were the American National Standard for Information (X3.172 – 1990) published by the American National Standards Institute in 1990.  The secretariat was the Computer and Business Equipment Manufacturers Association.  The subcommittee used definitions from the Dictionary for Information Systems for terms included in this section to the extent possible.  Exceptions were made to be consistent with current accepted usage in the field of computer and information systems and by industrial engineers.  While additional words could have been included, the members of the subcommittee believe those included reflect current usage by industrial engineers.  Overly simple terms and unnecessary variations of basic terms were excluded.  The subcommittee is keenly aware of the continuous creation of new terms and rapid change in usage of terms associated with the field of computer and information systems.  However, considerable effort was made to provide a comprehensive and current reference of industrial engineering usage of these terms.


William E. Hammer, Jr., CSP
Hammer Management Consulting


Richard M. Morris, III
R.M. Morris and Associates

Andrew J. Saunders, CMFGT
Information Services Analyst
The Duriron Company, Inc.

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ACCESS TIME. (1) (ANSI/ISO) The time interval between the instant at which an instruction control unit initiates a call for data and the instant at which delivery of the data is completed. Access time equals latency plus transfer time. In some countries, the concept of access time is identical to that of latency. (2) (ANSI/ISO) Deprecated term for cycle time.

ACCURACY. (1) (ANSI/ISO) A quality of that which is free of error. (2) (ANSI/ISO) A qualitative assessment of freedom from error, with a high assessment corresponding to a small error.

ADDRESS. (1) (ANSI/ISO) A character or group of characters that identifies a register, a particular part of storage, or some other data source or destination. (2) (ANSI/ISO) To refer to a device or a data item by its address.


ALGOL (ALGORITHMIC LANGUAGE). (ANSI) A language used to express computer programs by algorithms.

ALGORITHM. (ANSI/ISO) A finite set of well-defined rules for the solution of a problem in a finite number of steps.

ALIAS. (ANSI) An alternate label. For example, a label and one or more aliases may be used to refer to the same data element or point in a computer program.

ALPHANUMERIC. (ANSI) Pertaining to a character set that contains letters, digits, and usually other characters such as punctuation marks. Syn: alphameric.

ANALOG. (1) (ANSI) Pertaining to data consisting of continuously variable physical quantities. (2) (ANSI) Contrast with digital, discrete.

ANALYST. (ANSI/ISO) A person who defines problems and develops algorithms and procedures for their solution.

AND. (ANSI/ISO) A logic operator having the property that if P is a statement, Q is a statement, R is a statement..., then the and of P,Q,R... is true if all statements are true, false if any statement is false. P AND Q is often represented by P.Q, PQ, P^Q. Syn: logical multiply.

APPLICATION. (1) (ANSI) A particular kind of work that a user performs on a computer; e.g., a payroll application, an airline reservation system. (2) (ANSI) A shortened form of application program with information provided by the user.

APPLICATIONS GENERATOR. Software that generates an application program with information provided by the user.

ARGUMENT. (1) (ANSI/ISO) An independent variable. (2) (ANSI/ISO) Any value of an independent variable, e.g., a search key; a number identifying the location of an item in a table.

ARITHMETIC OPERATION. (ANSI) An operation that follows the rules of arithmetic.

ARRAY. (ANSI) An arrangement of elements in one or more dimensions. (PROGRAMMABLE LOGIC ARRAY.)

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE. (1) (ANSI) The capability of a device to perform functions that are normally associated with human intelligence, such as reasoning, learning, and self-improvement.

ASCII (AMERICAN NATIONAL STANDARD CODE FOR INFORMATION INTERCHANGE). (ANSI) The standard code, using a coded character set consisting of 7-bit coded characters (8-bits including parity check), used for information interchange amount data processing systems, data communication systems, and associated equipment. The ASCII set consists of control characters and graphic characters.

ASSEMBLER. (ANSI/ISO) A computer program used to assemble. Syn: assembly program.

ASSEMBLY LANGUAGE. (ANSI/ISO) A computer-oriented language whose instructions are usually in one-to-one correspondence with computer instructions and that may provide facilities such as the use of macroinstructions. Syn: computer-dependent language.

ASYNCHRONOUS OPERATION. (1) (ANSI/ISO) An operation that occurs without a regular or predictable time relationship to a specified event, e.g., the calling of an error diagnostic routine that may receive control at any time during the execution of a computer program. Syn: asynchronous working. (2) (ANSI) A sequence of operations in which operations are executed out of time coincidence with any event.

ATTRIBUTE. A property possessed by a record or entity. Two examples of attributes of the department entity are its name and its budget.

AUTOMATIC DATA PROCESSING (ADP). (ANSI) Data processing by means of one or more devices that use common storage for all or part of a computer program and also for all or part of the data necessary for execution of the program; that execute user-written or user-designated programs; that perform user-designated symbol manipulation, such as arithmetic operations, logic operations, or character-string manipulations; and that can execute programs that modify themselves during their execution. Automatic data processing may be performed by a stand-alone unit or by several connected units.

AUXILIARY OPERATION.  (ANSI) An off-line operation performed by equipment not under control of the processing unit.

AUXILIARY STORAGE. (1) (ANSI) Storage that is available to a processor only through input/output channels. (2) In a microcomputer, storage that is not memory; e.g. storage on diskettes, on streaming tapes, or on magnetic tape cartridges.

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