25 Computer Science Terms to Decode Before Your First Semester

25 Computer Science Terms to Decode Before Your First Semester

Computer Science and Programming can be daunting and intimidating at first. There is a long list of terms and acronyms that we must decode before we understand concepts such as algorithms, Boolean logic, and nested loops. A collection of 25 Computer Science Terms that will get you started in the field of Computer Science.

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25 Computer Science Terms


Analog is a term used to describe devices or processes that vary continuously, as opposed to digital, or discrete, inputs and outputs. Analog signals do not have a fixed number of possible values that can be treated as being on between two distinct points; any value in a continuous range is technically a value for an analog signal.


Bandwidth is a measurement of how much information can be transferred through a medium in a specific period of time. The capacity of a communication channel over which data can be sent with zero error. It is useful to compare the bandwidth of one communication channel (usually network connection) to another or to compare the effective bandwidth of an entire transmission system against the input bandwidth of the processor that uses it.

Big Data 

Big data refers to the ability to store and work with large amounts of information, which are too large to be processed by traditional relational database management systems. The amount that qualifies as big is not agreed upon, but it is generally understood to mean that the volume of data being handled is so large that using conventional methods would be impractical.


The bit is a term used in computer science, computer hardware, computer networking, and cryptography. It is the amount of information that can be held in one binary digit or one cell in a computer’s memory. The bit is the basic unit of information in the binary number system, which uses combinations of zeros and ones to represent data. Typical sizes are one bit, 8 bits (1 byte), 24 bits for UNICODE characters (2 bytes), 32 bits for floating-point numbers (4 bytes), or 64 bits for double-precision IEEE 754 numbers (8 bytes).


A bug is a flaw in a program. It can be latent, or it can crash the machine. If you find a bug in my program, that means that I will no longer be able to deny that it is there. There are three ways to find bugs: systematically, randomly, and by accident. 

Cloud Storage 

Cloud storage is basically a term for any kind of online storage that is kept virtually. This can be accessed by you online and usually comes with pretty good security. The idea behind the cloud is that the files are stored either on another computer or in another location altogether, meaning that you can access them from anywhere without having to carry the original disk with you. All this data is stored in the servers of the cloud storage company, not on your device alone. Since all of your information is stored in one place, it makes it much easier when you need to access or share your information with other people. The use of cloud storage also means that you can log into the same account from multiple devices in order to view everything you have stored in the cloud.


A code is a set of rules that governs how computers can communicate. These can be very simple or very complex, and they often span multiple disciplines: for example, the C language has its own set of rules and Unix has its own; but both are built on the same set of concepts.

Control Panel 

A Control panel is a user interface that provides administrators with a centralized location for controlling a computer or network. A control panel typically contains a number of common management tasks, such as adding users, installing software packages, and viewing events, among others.


CPU is the central processing unit. It determines how fast your computer runs. The speed of your CPU determines the speed of everything else in your system, too, such as your hard disk, graphics card, memory, and more. The speed of a CPU is measured in hertz (Hz). A higher number means that the processor can complete more calculations per second, which translates into faster overall performance for any software you run on your PC.

Data Security 

Data security refers to protecting data from unauthorized use, disclosure, change, or destruction. It’s a broad term used in describing the protection of personally identifiable information (PII), Intentional Data Breaches, and Malicious Attacks.


Debugging describes a step in the software development process that allows programmers to identify and solve errors in computer programs. It is used to find and fix problems in computer programs before they are released.


Digital is the adjective we use to describe something that exists in ways other than in physical form. Digital songs can be listened to via a computer or MP3 player. Digital photos can be seen on a computer monitor or printed out and put in a frame.

Disk Storage 

In computer hardware, disk storage is a means of storage for digital data on an electromechanical hard disk drive.


Ethernet is a core network technology for local area networks. It sends packets of information over a wire, typically to a computer that includes a NIC (network interface card).


Hacker is a person who explores and writes software in a way that involves going beyond established or normal boundaries. Hackers typically have an advanced understanding of programming languages and computing concepts.


A hub is a central device that connects multiple devices as used in computer networks. Hubs are used to increase the total usable bandwidth of a network segment and reduce the congestion at central points. Each network switch contains one or more ports.


HTML is the most popular language used to create web pages. It’s not something you need to learn to be able to build websites, but knowing the basics of HTML will help you when it comes to creating content for your site.


An index is a list of terms that you want to be able to find when searching for what you have listed. For example, an index can be a list of all the words in a document, so the next time you look at it you can find any word in it.

IP Address 

IP stands for Internet Protocol and it is a set of rules to identify and locate computers or devices connected to a TCP/IP-based network such as the Internet. The IP address, also known as an Internet protocol address, identifies each machine connected to the Internet and is made up of numbers separated by periods. 

Local area network

LAN is a subset of a larger category called MANs, or Metropolitan Area Networks, which connect computers over a much wider area.

Plain Text 

Plain text is one of the simplest file formats, but it can be opened using any computer program. Detecting whether or not the text has been encrypted is easy with this plain text software solution.


Processing is the term used for taking instructions and data, labels or values, and producing an output of new instructions and data. 


RAM stands for Random Access Memory and it’s a type of data storage that will process information quickly. Although it can be technically classified as a storage device, RAM is usually thought of as a form of volatile memory which means that any files stored in it won’t be retained when the computer is turned off.


ROM stands for read-only memory and it is the most basic type of computer memory. ROM is non-volatile which means that contents of ROM will remain there even if no power is supplied to the device containing the ROM.


Vaporware is a term used to describe a product, typically computer hardware or software, which has been advertised but is never released. Many “vaporware” products have been featured in advertising campaigns, with consumers being persuaded to purchase a product they have never even seen.

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