IEEE Computer Society Style Guide

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* Denotes entries for which it is okay to use acronym or abbreviated term on first use


A: ampere, for example, 25 A (n); 25-A current (adj)


AAAI: American Association for Artificial Intelligence


AAAS: American Association for the Advancement of Science


AACP: American Association of Computing Professionals


ABET: Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology


AC: alternating current


academic degrees: BS, MS, and PhD are the standard abbreviations for the bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees that we encounter in most of our authors' biographies. However, if an author insists, using "BSME" or "BSEE" instead of "BS in mechanical engineering" or "MSc" instead of "MS" is acceptable. These and other variants have the sanction of being included in the Webster's list of abbreviations. In general, reproduce non-US degrees as authors submit them (except for periods), for example, BEng, BTech, and DPhil. See also bachelor's, master's, doctorate.


accents: Use accents in anglicized non-English terms when important for pronunciation, to avoid confusion with another word, or where context makes it unclear. Use accents in non-English names, especially names of individuals. In general, lean toward the author's preference. See also the Non-English Words and Phrases section.


ACE: Advanced Computing Environment


ACID: atomicity, consistency, isolation, and durability (a test)


ACK: acknowledgment


Acknowledgments: not Acknowledgements


ACL: Association for Computational Linguistics


ACM: Association for Computing Machinery; includes several special-interest groups (SIGs). With the exception of Siggraph and Sigmod, use the ACM style for each SIG in text or references. See for a current listing. Use "is a member of ACM" in bios. In references, use ACM instead of ACM Press (old format).


acronyms: See the Acronyms and Abbreviated Terms section for general style guidelines.


ACS: Australian Computer Society


ActiveX: software technology from Microsoft


A/D: analog/digital


Ada: a programming language (named for Augusta Ada Lovelace) developed by the US Defense Department


ADAPSO: Association of Data Processing Service Organizations; renamed as Information Technology Association of America (ITAA) in 1991


ADC: analog-to-digital converter


add-in board


Addison-Wesley or Addison Wesley Longman; Addison-Wesley Professional


add-on (adj)


address mode (n): the way the processor is addressed; includes sequential, forward, and backward addressing, among other modes; hyphenate when used as an adjective


ADSL: asymmetric digital subscriber line (for fast Internet access)


AEA: American Electronics Association


AEC (adj): architecture-engineering-construction; no hyphens in the acronym


AES: Advanced Encryption Standard; NIST standard for symmetric key encryption


AFCET: Association Française pour la Cybernétique Économique et Technique


AFIPS: American Federation of Information Processing Societies (no longer exists)


agile: not capitalized when it refers to programming techniques


AI: artificial intelligence; acceptable on first reference if context makes it clear


AIAA: American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics


AIChE: American Institute of Chemical Engineers


AIIM: Association for Information and Image Management


AIM: advanced instruction module


AIP: American Institute of Physics


Ajax: Asynchronous JavaScript and XML


A K Peters: Publisher (note: no periods after initials)


Algol: stands for algorithmic language


ALPG: algorithmic pattern generator (hardware and software)


Al Qaeda


ALU: arithmetic logic unit


a.m.: ante meridiem "before noon" (also includes 12:00 midnight). See also p.m.


ampersand: retain symbol in proper names when the name owner uses it that way; otherwise avoid


Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk)


AMS: American Mathematical Society


AMU: Association of Minicomputer Users


analog: not analogue


and/or: avoid this construction


ANOVA: analysis of variance; a statistical test


ANSI: American National Standards Institute


Ansys: finite-element analysis software by Swanson Analysis Systems


anti-: not hyphenated as a compound modifier unless root word is a proper noun or begins with "i," for example, antialiasing, anti-intellectual


apa: all points addressable


APDA: Apple Programmers and Developers Association


API: application programming interface


APL: A Programming Language


appendices: not appendixes


Apple IIe, IIgs; Macintosh IIc, IIcx, IIfx, and so on


apps: acceptable abbreviated term for applications


Arcnet: Attached Resource Computer Network; developed by Datapoint Corp.


ARO: after receipt of order; Army Research Office (preceded by US if spelled out)


ARPA: Advanced Research Projects Agency, a part of the US Defense Department; DARPA is the preferred usage.


Arpanet: the oldest of the networks on the Internet; initial capital only


artificial intelligence: AI is acceptable on first reference if the context makes it clear. The term loosely includes expert systems, knowledge bases, natural-language interfaces, pattern recognition (voice, image, and signal), and neural networks.


ASC: American Society for Cybernetics


ASCI: Accelerated Strategic Computing Initiative


ASCII: American Standard Code for Information Interchange


ASIC: application-specific integrated circuit. Don't spell this out in Pervasive Computing.


ASIS: American Society for Information Science and Technology


ASME: American Society of Mechanical Engineers


ASP: application service provider; application-specific processor; Active Server Pages


ASPLOS: Architectural Support for Programming Languages and Operating Systems; the name of a conference


assembly language (lowercase; not assembler): a computer language that assembles the assembly-language code, as a compiler compiles high-level code


ASTI: Association for Science, Technology, and Innovation


ATE: automatic test equipment


ATM: asynchronous transfer mode


ATPG: automatic test-pattern generation


AutoCAD: software from Autodesk Inc.; exception to normal style because of common usage




avatar: graphical image that represents a person


Awk: a language based on the authors' names—Aho, Weinberger, and Kernighan





B2B: business-to-business


B2C: business-to-consumer


bachelor's degree


back end (n), back-end (adj)


backplane (n): an electronic circuit board containing circuitry and sockets into which additional electronic devices on other circuit boards or cards can be plugged; generally synonymous with or part of a computer motherboard


backup (n, adj): for example, the system served as a backup; a backup copy


back up (v): as in, you can back up the database




bar code


Basic: a programming language; allegedly stands for "beginner's all-purpose symbolic instruction code," but this is etymologically suspect


BasicA: Microsoft advanced Basic; known as "GW-Basic" on non-IBM, MS-DOS computers


baud (singular, plural): transmission speed in units per second, originally used to measure telegraph transmission. In computing, the units are usually bits, hence the common practice of using baud and bps interchangeably. However, this is technically inaccurate because the unit in a baud can be any discrete element.


BCS: British Computer Society


BDI: beliefs, desires, intentions—a model of human reasoning


BEEP: Blocks Extensible Exchange Protocol


Beijing: the Pinyin form used instead of "Peking"


benchmark: a standardized problem, test, or suite of tests that serves as a basis for the repeatable, objective comparison of hardware or software; examples include Dhrystone, Mflops, Sim, Whetstone


beta site: the secondary (hence beta) site


Beta-spline (n, adj): not the same as a B-spline


beta test (n, v)


Bezier: no accent mark on the first syllable


BFL: buffered field-effect transistor logic


BIFS: binary format for scenes


BGP: Border Gateway Protocol


"Big Blue": informal name for IBM


BIOS: basic input/output system; operating system software that handles communications with devices, including monitors, keyboards, disk drives, processors, and ports


Birkhaüser Boston: North American branch of the Swiss publisher, Birkhaüser Publishing


BIST: built-in self-test


bit: a binary digit, 0 or 1; the basic element making up digital data


-bit (suffix): adjectives formed with numbers and bit are hyphenated, for example, 64-bit processor


bitblt: Previous CS Style Guide versions defined this term as "bit block-level transfer," but some authors insist on "bit block transfer."




bitmap: digital representation of an image in which bits are mapped into pixels; in color graphics, a different bitmap is used for each red, green, and blue value


bitmapped graphics


Bitnet: communications network between universities and research centers. Although it's reputed to stand for "Because It's Time Network," the term is not a true acronym.


bit rate


bit-slice processor


bit-sliced (adj)


bitstream (n, adj)


bitwise (n): dealing with bits rather than a larger structure such as a byte; bitwise operators are programming commands or statements that work with individual bits


black-and-white (adj)




black box: a complicated electronic device whose internal mechanism is usually hidden from or mysterious to the user


BLAS: basic linear algebra subroutines


blog: a shared online journal






BNF: Backus-Naur Form, a metalanguage


boldface: strictly limit use as an emphasis technique; italic type is preferred and should be used whenever possible


Boolean: from George Boole; spelling with a capital B is preferred


bootup (n), boot up (v): more commonly just boot


botnet: jargon term for a collection of software robots, or bots, that run autonomously


bottom-up design: design that starts at the system level as opposed to top-down design, which starts at the logic level and works down. In middle-out design, design starts at the middle level and proceeds up or down.


boundary scan: a self-test technique; not synonymous with scan


BPEL4WS: Business Process Execution Language for Web Services


bpi: bits per inch, for example, 1,600-bpi magnetic tape unit; 1,600 bpi


BPML: Business Process Modeling Language


bps: bits per second, as in, 1,200 bps; see also baud


BPSS: Business Process Specification Schema


BRDF: bidirectional reflectance distribution function


B-rep: boundary representation


broadband (n): technique for high-speed data transmission


broadcast bus: sends a single data item to all bus destinations in a unit of time


brute-force attack


BSA: Business Software Alliance


Bsafe: encryption software


BSD: Berkeley Software Distribution, an extended and modified version of AT&T Unix from the University of California, Berkeley


B-spline (n, adj): not the same as a Beta-spline




b-trieve: random-access search technique used in databases


burn-in (adj, n); burn in (v)


bus, bused, busing, buses: The s is not doubled.


byte: an eight-bit string that a processor reads as a group; generally, one byte equals one alphanumeric character


bytecode: one word





C: a programming language


C++: a programming language based on C and extended to include object-oriented features (++ is not super- or subscripted)


C3: command, control, and communications


C3I: command, control, communications, and intelligence


Cx: (x is an integer or an algebraic representation of an integer); a mathematical notation referring to the continuity of a function and therefore its differentiability (in calculus) because derivatives are undefined where functions are discontinuous. Less formally, continuity refers to the "smoothness" of a function or curve. C0 means the function is continuous but its derivatives are not. C1 means both the function and its first derivative are continuous, but the second derivative might not be. More complicated forms, such as CK-1, also occur. Some authors make the C calligraphic, but this is not necessary.


CAD: computer-aided design


CADAM: computer graphics augmented design and manufacturing system


CAD/CAM: computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing


CADD: computer-aided design and drafting


CAE: computer-aided engineering


CAGD: computer-aided geometric design


CAI: computer-assisted instruction or computer-aided instruction


CalArts: California Institute of the Arts; abbreviated term acceptable only on second reference


Calcomp, Calcomp IGS-500, Calcomp 960 plotter


CALM: Common Assembly Language for Microprocessors


Caltech: California Institute of Technology


CAM: contact addressable memory


CAM-I: Computer-Aided Manufacturing International


Carnegie Mellon University: The Pittsburgh-based university removed the hyphen from its name in 1986.


Cartesian: initial capital


CASE: computer-aided software engineering


CASA/SME: Computer and Automated Systems Association of the Society of Mechanical Engineers


CAT: computer-aided testing (not "computerized axial tomography"); see CT


catalog (not catalogue)


CAVE: Cave Automatic Virtual Environment


CavernSoft: note internal cap


CBEMA: Computer Business Equipment Manufacturers Association


CCALI: Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction


CCD: charge-coupled device


CCIA: Computer and Communications Industry Association


CCITT: Comité Consultatif International de Télégraphique et Téléphonique (International Consultative Committee for Telegraphy and Telephony), a Geneva-based division of the International Telecommunications Union, a New York-based United Nations organization; rarely spelled out. Now ITU-T, see listing in the "I" section.


CDA: DEC's compound document architecture


CD-I: compact disc-interactive


CDMA: code division multiple access—a wireless communications technology


CD-ROM: compact-disc read-only memory; preferred spelling is with the hyphen


Cedar: a Xerox programming language


Cedex: a French postal pickup station, used in addresses


cel: clear acetate sheet onto which animators' drawings are traced and painted for photographing


cell phone


century: use symbol for ordinal numbers, for example, 20th century. Note: CMS spells out the century (twentieth century).


CerDIP: trademark name for a ceramic dual in-line package


CERN: Centre Européen des Recherches Nucléaires (European Center for Nuclear Research)


CERT Coordination Center: CERT/CC, a center of Internet security expertise, located at the Software Engineering Institute, Carnegie Mellon University


CGA: color graphics adapter (or array); an IBM color-display standard allowing eight colors


CGI: common gateway interface


CGS: Computer Graphics Society


CHI: The annual Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. Don't spell this out in Pervasive Computing


child: one of several family words used to describe relationships among nodes in databases; the terms are legitimate—don't edit them out


chipmaker, chipset




CIDR: classless interdomain routing


CIE: International Commission on Illumination (Commission Internationale de l'Eclairage)


CIELUV: perceptually based color space


CIM: computer-integrated manufacturing


ciphertext: no hyphen; i not y


CIPS: Canadian Information Processing Society


CISC: complex-instruction-set computing


CLB: configurable logic block


cleanroom: a software development approach aimed at producing software with the minimum number of errors


cleanup (n, adj), clean up (v)


cleartext (n)


client-server: use hyphen, not slash


clk: clock


clock cycle: the time it takes the CPU to fetch and execute an instruction; do not substitute clock


closed-loop (adj)


(the) cloud; cloud computing


CLUT: color lookup table


CMM: Capability Maturity Model, Levels 1–5. Don't spell this out in Software.


CMOS: complementary metal-oxide semiconductor


co-: Compounds formed with this prefix are generally not hyphenated. Exceptions are compounds that result in a double o (co-op, co-official) and a compound such as co-edition that could be confusing or suggests infelicitous reading. However, this does not apply to words such as coincidence or cooperate where the first two letters, through long-standing use, are viewed more as an integral part of the word than as prefixes. See Webster's and CMS 7.85, Table 4, for other examples.


Co.: abbreviated when used in text as part of a company name; avoid using unless a company's name might not be clear without it, for example, Data Co.


Cobol: Common Business-Oriented Language; Cobol on all references


CoCom: an informal abbreviation for Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Expert Controls


Cocomo: Cost Constructive Model, a project-estimation system developed by Barry Boehm


Codasyl: Conference on Data Systems Languages, an obsolete organization devoted to developing a universal data system language for business; active from 1959 to about 1971


code base


codesign; hardware-software codesign


Codiac: centralized operation deterministic interface access control


colocate: locate together, as in putting two things close together to share common facilities


COM: Component Object Model


compiler: a program that translates code in a high-level language into instructions a machine can execute


complex-instruction-set computing: also CISC


compute: resist the tendency to use as an adjective or adverb. Use computationally intensive instead of compute-intensive and computation server instead of compute server.


Computer (magazine): not IEEE Computer


computer games: Italicize the names of computer games but not the names of other types of games.


Computer Science Press: an imprint of W.H. Freeman; spell out the name to avoid confusion with CS Press.


Computer Society: Use the IEEE Computer Society on first reference; Computer Society without IEEE is acceptable on second reference. The executive staff often uses IEEE-CS in its official communications.


Computer Society publications: use IEEE CS in references


cooltown: A ubiquitous-computing initiative sponsored by Hewlett-Packard. Don't call it "CoolTown."


copyleft: a general method for making a software program free and requiring all modified and extended versions of the program to be free software as well


copyright, ©: See the Copyrights, Trademarks, and Image Permissions section.


Corba: common object request broker architecture. Don't spell this out in Software.


Corp.: abbreviated when used in text as part of a company name; spelled out when used in a byline or biography. Generally used only if a company's name might not be clear without it, for example, Logic Corp.


Cosmic Cube: supercomputer at the University of Illinois


cost-effective: always hyphenated


COTS: commercial off-the-shelf


counter-: prefix, not hyphenated


Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences: an institute at New York University


CPA: Computer Press Association


CP/M, CP/M-86: two of many early operating systems


cpi: characters per inch


cpl: characters per line; spell it out


cps: characters per second, as in 125-cps printer


CPU: central processing unit; plural is CPUs


Cray-1, Cray-2, Cray X-MP/24, Cray X-MP/48, Cray-MP: parallel processors from Cray Research (now Cray Inc.)


CRM: customer relationship management


cross-assembler, cross-compiler: an assembler or compiler that assembles/ compiles code on one machine for use on another, normally incompatible, machine


crossbar (adj)


cross-hair cursor


cross section (n), cross-section (adj)


Crosstalk: communications software


cross validation (n), cross-validation (adj)






CRT: cathode-ray tube; acceptable on first reference; use VDT when talking about video displays in general


CS: informal acronym for IEEE Computer Society; rarely used alone in publications


CSCW: computer-supported cooperative work


CSE: computational science and engineering; also, "computer science and engineering"


CSG: constructive solid geometry


CSI: Computer Security Institute


CSIC: customer-specific integrated circuit; pronounced "seasick"


CSMA/CA: carrier sense multiple access with collision avoidance



CSnet: Computer Science Network. A network established to connect institutions that have Arpanet to each other and also to those that don't. Merged with Bitnet in 1989.


CS Press: no longer used except for books as of 2011; use IEEE CS in references to conference proceedings


CSS: Cascading Style Sheets; a style sheet language


CT: computerized tomography; a 3D-scanning technique (not CAT)


CUDA: (Compute Unified Device Architecture) Not commonly spelled out.


CURE: an algorithm


CUT: circuit under test


cyber: (adj.) relating to computers or computer networks


cyber- (prefix): cyberattack, cyberinfrastructure, cybersecurity, cyberworld