Computing Glossary

abstraction (process) – the act of selecting and
capturing relevant information about a thing,
a system or a problem.

abstraction (product) – a representation of a
thing, a system or a problem that contains only
selected (relevant) details about it; for example,
a diagram is an abstraction.

algorithm – a set of unambiguous rules or
instructions to achieve a particular objective.

array – a data structure comprising a collection
of values of the same type, accessible through an

assembly code – a human-readable programming
language in which each instruction corresponds to
a single executable instruction for a CPU.

binary – a method of encoding data using two
symbols, 1 and 0.

binary number – a number written in the base 2
number system.

bit – a basic unit of data that stores one binary
value, 1 or 0.

bitmap – a collection of pixels forming an image.
Boolean – a data type with only two values, TRUE

browser cookie – a small piece of text recording
activity about websites you visit, stored on your

circuit – a grouping of electronic components that
allow for operations to be performed.

code – any set of instructions expressed in a
programming language.

coding – the act of writing computer programs in
a programming language.

colour depth – the number of different colours
that may be used in an image, dictated by the
number of bits used to represent the colour of
each pixel.

compiler – a program that converts programs
written in one language (source code) into
equivalent programs written in a different
language (often in the form of instructions that a
processor can execute).

computational thinking – a philosophy that
underpins computing through decomposition,
pattern recognition, abstraction, pattern
generalisation and algorithm design.

CPU – central processing unit; the device within a
computer that executes instructions.

data structure – a particular way to store and
organise data within a computer program.

debugging – the process of finding and correcting
errors in programs.

decimal – the base 10 number system.

decomposition – breaking a problem or system
down into its components.

digital – using discrete binary values.

digital artefact – digital content made by a human
with intent and skill.

digital creator – a person who makes digital

digital media – media encoded in a computer
readable form.

hardware – the physical components that make
up a computer.

HTML – hypertext mark-up language; the language
used to create web pages.

input (noun) – an input is a data value passed
from the outside world to a computer.

input (verb) – to input is to send data from the
outside world into a computer system.

internet – a network of interconnected networks.
interpreter – a program that converts instructions
written in one language into equivalent
instructions in another language, and executes
each instruction as soon as it is translated.

IP address – Internet Protocol address; a unique
numeric value that is assigned to a computer or
other device connected to the internet so that it
may be identified and located.

lists – a data structure for storing ordered values.

model – a representation of (some part of) a
problem or a system.

modelling – the act of creating a model.

modular design – the practice of designing a
system or program as a set of independent
but interacting units (modules) that may be
implemented and tested separately before
bringing them together to solve the overall

network – more precisely, a computer network;
a collection of computational devices (personal
computers, phones, servers, switches, routers,
and so on) connected to one another by cables
or by wireless media, and arranged so that data
may be sent between devices either directly or via
other devices.

operating system – a set of programs that manage
the functioning of, and other programs’ access to,

output (noun) – a response from a system.

output (verb) – to generate an output.

packet – more precisely, a network packet. A
formatted unit of data for transmission across a
network. Each packet contains part of a message
plus some additional data, including where it is
from and where it is going.

pixel – the smallest controllable element of

process (noun) – a process is a running program.

process (verb) – the act of using data to perform a
calculation or other operation.

program – a set of instructions that the computer
executes in order to achieve a particular objective.

programming – the craft of analysing problems
and designing, writing, testing and maintaining
programs to solve them.

programming language – formal language used to
give a computer instructions.

repetition – the process of repeating a task a set
number of times or until a condition is met.

resolution – a measurement of the number of
pixels needed to display an image.

router – more precisely, a network router. A
router is a device that connects networks to one
another (typically one or more local area networks
(LANs) to a wide area network (WAN)), and directs
packets between networks. A home broadband
router performs the functions of a switch while
allowing computers to connect to the internet.

selection – using conditions to control the flow of
a program.

sequence (noun) – an ordered set of instructions.

sequence (verb) – to arrange a set of instructions
in a particular order.

server – a computer or program dedicated to a
particular set of tasks that provides services to
other computers or programs on a network.

software – the programs that run on the
hardware/computer system.

switch – more precisely, a network switch. This is
a device that connects multiple computers to one
another on a single local area network (LAN), and
directs packets from machine to machine.

table – a data type storing organised sets of data
under column headings.

Unicode – a standardised system for representing
individual characters as sequences of bits.

variable – a data store used in a program.

web browser – a computer program to view

World Wide Web – a service made of connected
hypertext documents linked together across the

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