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Grid Computation: the Fastest Supercomputer in the World
(Released November 2006)

 
  by Chao-Hsu Yao  

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Glossary

Authentication: In computer security, the process of attempting to verify the digital identity of the sender of a communication such as a request to log in. The sender being authenticated may be a person using a computer, a computer itself or a computer program.

Bitonic Sequences: A sequence composed of two subsequences, one monotonically non-decreasing and the other monotonically non-increasing. A "V" and an A-frame are examples of bitonic sequences.

Central Processing Unit (CPU): The component in a digital computer that interprets instructions and processes data contained in computer programs (sometimes simply called simply "processor").

Computer Viruses: A self-replicating computer program written to alter the way a computer operates, without the permission or knowledge of the user.

Computer Worms: A self-replicating computer program. It uses a network to send copies of itself to other systems and it may do so without any user intervention. Unlike a virus, it does not need to attach itself to an existing program. Worms always harm the network (if only by consuming bandwidth), whereas viruses always infect or corrupt files on a targeted computer.

Cryptography: Refers almost exclusively to encryption, the process of converting ordinary information (plaintext) into something unintelligible.

Database management systems (DBMS): A system or software designed to manage a database and run operations on the data requested by numerous clients.

Distributed Computing: A programming paradigm focusing on designing distributed, open, scalable, transparent, fault tolerant systems. This paradigm is a natural result of the use of computers to form networks.

Grid Computation: An emerging computing model that provides the ability to perform higher throughput computing by taking advantage of many networked computers to model a virtual computer architecture that is able to distribute process execution across a parallel infrastructure.

Information Queries: A precise request for information, typically keywords combined with Boolean operators and other modifiers, in the field of information retrieval.

Internet: The worldwide, publicly accessible network of interconnected computer networks that transmit data by packet switching using the standard Internet Protocol (IP).

Internet Protocol (IP): A data-oriented protocol used for communicating data across a packet-switched internet.

Local Area Network (LAN): A computer network covering a local area, like a home, office, or group of buildings.

Message Passing: In computer science, a form of communication used in concurrent programming, parallel programming, object-oriented programming, and interprocess communication. Communication occurs by sending messages to recipients. Forms of messages include function invocation, signals, and data packets.

Operating Systems (OS): A computer program that manages the hardware and software resources of a computer.

Parallel Processing/Parallel Computing: The simultaneous execution of the same task (split up and specially adapted) on multiple processors in order to obtain results faster. The idea is based on the fact that the process of solving a problem usually can be divided into smaller tasks, which may be carried out simultaneously with some coordination.

Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs): Handheld devices that were originally designed as personal organizers, but became much more versatile over the years.

Processing Scheduling: A key concept in computer multitasking and multiprocessing operating system design, and in real-time operating system design. It refers to the way processes are assigned priorities in a priority queue. This assignment is carried out by software known as a scheduler.

Quantum Mechanics: A fundamental branch of theoretical physics that replaces classical mechanics and classical electromagnetism at the atomic and subatomic levels. It is the underlying mathematical framework of many fields of physics and chemistry, including condensed matter physics, atomic physics, molecular physics, computational chemistry, quantum chemistry, particle physics, and nuclear physics. Along with general relativity, quantum mechanics is one of the pillars of modern physics.

Semiconductor: A solid whose electrical conductivity can be controlled over a wide range, either permanently or dynamically.

Supercomputer: A computer that leads the world in terms of processing capacity, particularly speed of calculation, at the time of its introduction. The term "Super Computing" was first used by New York World newspaper in 1920 to refer to large custom-built tabulators IBM made for Columbia University.

Transistors: A three-terminal semiconductor device that can be used for amplification, switching, voltage stabilization, signal modulation and many other functions.

Vacuum Tubes: In electronics, a vacuum tube (or thermionic valve outside North America) is a device generally used to amplify, or otherwise modify, a signal by controlling the movement of electrons in an evacuated space.

Vectors: In computer science, a dynamic array, or a data structure based on an array, which is able to grow or shrink as needed.

Virtual Organization: In grid computing, a group of individuals or institutions who share the computing resources of a "grid" for a common goal.