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Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM)

A packet-based network system that uses high-speed transmission lines (150 megabits and over) and routers to maximize network efficiency and throughput.


Descriptions of an object or entity. For example, a customer object would at least have attributes for name, phone number, and address.

Audit trail

The ability to trace any transaction back to its source. In accounting, transaction values are accumulated on the general ledger and used to create reports. An audit trail is a set of marks or records to point back to the original transaction.


The ability to verify the source of a message. Dual-key systems are a useful technique. The sender uses a private key to encrypt the message. The recipient applies the sender's public key. If the decrypted message is readable, it had to have come from the alleged sender, because the keys always work in pairs.


A high-speed communication line that links multiple subnetworks. It is usually a fiber optic line.

Backward chaining

In an expert system, the user enters a "conclusion" and asks to see whether the rules support that conclusion.

Barriers to entry

Anything that makes it more difficult for new firms to enter an industry. Several possibilities would violate antitrust laws. An acceptable barrier is the increased use of information systems, which raises the cost of entering an industry because a rival would have to spend additional money on information technology.

Beginners All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code (Basic)

An early computer programming language designed to be easy to program and to teach. Visual Basic is a current version for Windows programming.


A set of routines or actions used to evaluate computer performance. By performing the same basic tasks on several machines, you can compare their relative speeds. Benchmarks are especially useful when the machines use different processors and different input and output devices.

Binary data

A collection of ones and zeros called bits. Computer processors operate only on binary data. All data forms are first converted to binary


A field of study that is trying to determine how to identify people based on biological characteristics. The most common devices are fingerprint and handprint readers.

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