Skip to content


To help clarify the way we refer to certain terms in our user documentation, here is a brief list of some of the words that regularly come up in our documents. Please reach out to us at if there are any other words that need to be added.

Account - used to authenticate and grant permission to access resources

Account (Slurm) - an accounting mechanism to keep track of a group's computing usage

Activate - making something operational

Array - a data structure across a series of memory locations consisting of elements organized in an index

Array (job) - a series of jobs that all request the same resources and run the same batch script

Array Task ID - a unique sequential number with an appended number that refers to an individual task within the set of submitted jobs

Channel - Community-led collections of packages created by a group or lab installed with conda to allow for a homogenous environment across systems

CLI - Command Line Interface processes commands to a computer program in the form of lines of text in a window

Cluster - a set of computers, called nodes) networked together so nodes can perform the tasks facilitated by a scheduling software

Command - a specific order from a computer to execute a service with either an application or the operating system

Compute Node - the nodes that work runs on to perform computational work

Container - A stack of software, libraries and operating system that is independent of the host computer and can be accessed on other computers

Container Image - Self-contained read-only files used to run applications

CPU - Central Processing Units are the components of a system that perform basic operations and exchange data with the system’s memory (also known as a processor)

Data - items of information collected together for reference or analysis

Database - a collection of structured data held within a computer

Deactivate - making something de-operational

Environment - a collection of hardware, software, data storage and networks that work together in facilitating the processing and exchange of information

Extension - Suffix at the end of a filename to indicate the file type

Fileset - a section of a storage device that is given a designated purpose

Filesystem - a process that manages how and where data is stored

Flag - (see Options)

GPU - Graphics Processing Units are specialized circuits designed to rapidly manipulate memory and create images in a frame buffer for a displayed output

GridFTP - an extension of the Fire Transfer Protocol for grid computing that allows users to transfer and save data on a different account such as Google Drive or other off network memory

Group - a collection of users who can all be given the same permissions on a system

GUI - Graphical User Interface allows users to interact with devices and applications through a visual window that can commonly display icons and predetermined fields

Hardware - the physical parts of a computer

Host - (ie. Host Computer) A device connected to a computer network that offers resources, services and applications to users on the network

Image - (See Container Image)

Index - a method of sorting data by creating keywords or a listing of data

Interface - a boundary across which two or more computer system components can exchange information

Job - a unit of work given to an operating system by a scheduler

Job Array - a way to submit multiple similar jobs by associating each subjob with an index value based on an array task id

Key - a variable value applied using an algorithm to a block of unencrypted text to produce encrypted text

Load - transfer a program or data into memory or into the CPU

Login Node - a node that users log in on to access the cluster

Memory - (see RAM)

Metadata - A set of data that describes and gives basic information about other data

Module - a number of distinct but interrelated units that build up or into a program

MPI - Message Passing Interface is a standardized and portable message-passing standard designed to function on parallel computing architectures

Multiprocessing - the ability to operate more than one task simultaneously on the same program across two or more processors in a computer

Node - a server in the cluster

Option - a single letter or full word that modifies the behavior of a command in a predetermined way (also known as a flag or switch)

Package - a collection of hardware and software needed to create a working system

Parallel - (ex. Computing/Programming) Architecture in which several processes are carried out simultaneously across smaller, independent parts

Partition - a section of a storage device that is given a designated purpose

Partition (Slurm) - a collection of compute nodes available via the scheduler

Path - A string of characters used to identify locations throughout a directory structure

Pane - (Associate with window) A subdivision within a window where an independent terminal can run simultaneously alongside another terminal

Processor - (see CPU)

Queue - a sequence of objects arranged according to priority waiting to be processed

RAM - Random Access Memory, also known as "Memory" can be read and changed in any order and is typically used to to store working data

Reproducibility - the ability to execute the same results across multiple systems by different individuals using the same data

Scheduler - the software used to assign resources to a job for tasks

Scheduling - the act of assigning resources to a task through a software product

Session - a temporary information exchange between two or more devices

SSH - secure shell is a cryptographic network protocol for operating network services securely over an unsecured network

Software - a collection of data and instructions that tell a computer how to operate

Switch - (see Options)

System - a set of integrated hardware and software that input, output, process, and store data and information

Task ID - a unique sequential number used to refer to a task

Terminal - Referring to a terminal program, a text-based interface for typing commands

Toolchain - a set of tools performing individual actions used in delivering an operation

Unload - remove a program or data from memory or out of the CPU

User - a person interacting and utilizing a computing service

Variable - assigned and referenced data values that can be called within a program and changed depending on how the program runs

Window - (Associate with pane) the whole screen being displayed, containing subdivisions, or panes, that can run independent terminals alongside each other

Last update: February 6, 2023