IEEE Computer Society Style Guide

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µ: mu; see mu and micro- entries


M: SI prefix for million or mega (40-Mbyte hard disk, 12 Mbytes of memory)


m: one one-thousandth or milli- (18 mm)


mA: milliampere (20-mA current loop, 20 mA)


MAA: Mathematical Association of America


MAC: media access control


MacDraw, MacPaint, MacWrite


Macintosh: computer from Apple


Macro II: Digital Equipment Corp. assembly language


macro- (prefix): not hyphenated when used to form a compound (macroassembler); exception is when a double "o" occurs, for example, macro-object


Macsyma: a symbolic manipulation program developed at MIT


mainframe: a computer housed in a large frame or cabinet, usually used for multiuser applications, which usually requires a temperature-controlled environment and special power supply. Examples are the Digital Equipment Corporation VAX and IBM System 370 computers; saying "mainframe computer" is redundant.




MAN: metropolitan area network


manet: mobile ad hoc network; in Transactions, MANET


man-hour, man-month, man-year (nouns): try to use a non-gender-specific term, such as staff-hour


man-in-the-middle attack; MITM attack


MAP: Manufacturing Automation Protocol; MAP/TOP: Manufacturing Automation Protocol/Technical Office Protocol; communications standards supported by General Motors and Boeing; both standards follow OSI (Open Systems Interconnection) protocols


marked up: When it's used as an adjective, hyphenate it when it comes before the word it modifies but not when it comes after.


market research firm


markup (adj, n)


mashup (n); mash up (v)


master's degree


master slice (n): a nonmetalized wafer containing arrays of circuit elements interconnected to perform different functions


matrices: preferred over matrixes in a mathematical context; in other contexts such as structural composition, use matrixes; example: matrixes of materials




matrix, -es: see matrices


MB: megabyte; use Mbyte (40-Mbyte hard disk, 12 Mbytes of memory)


Mb: megabit; use Mbit or spell out


Mbit: megabit; use Mbit or spell out


Mbps: megabits per second (spell out on first use, except in Internet Computing); Mbps, not MBPS.


Mbone: multicast backbone; Internet broadcasting technology


Mbyte: megabyte (40-Mbyte hard disk, 12 Mbytes of memory)


MCAE: mechanical computer-aided engineering


MCM: multichip module


MDA: Model Driven Architecture


MEMS: microelectromechanical systems


MEPS: millions of events per second


meta- (prefix): not hyphenated when used to form a compound (metarule) unless it looks weird, as when the second term starts with a vowel (meta-analysis)


Mflops: megaflops; million floating-point operations per second


MHEG: Multimedia and Hypermedia Experts Group


MHz: megahertz (50-MHz channel, 50 MHz)


micro, micros: acceptable as nouns when referring to microcomputers


micro- (prefix): one-millionth part of a specified unit (microgram); not hyphenated when used to form a compound (microelectronics)


micro-BGA: micro-ball-grid array


microCAD, microCADD: computer-aided design and computer-aided design and drafting performed on a microcomputer—no longer relevant since most CAD/CADD is performed on microcomputers


microelectromechanical: one word, no hyphens or capitals; often seen as microelectromechanical systems, abbreviated as MEMS


micrometer (mm): SI abbreviation for one-millionth part of a meter; accepted abbreviation is m


micron: millionth part of a meter, but SI term is micrometer; usage varies, for example, micron is used in integrated circuit production; can also be written as m


microphotograph: small photograph normally magnified for viewing (such as microfilm). The field is called micrographics. Do not confuse with "photomicrograph," a magnified picture of small things.


microsecond (ms): the letter "u" is not a replacement. If a Greek font is not available, spell out as mu. In magazines, spelled-out form is preferred, at least on first reference, except perhaps in tables.


MicroVAX, MicroVAX II, MicroVMS


mid: Check Webster's for preferred format.


middle-out design


midframe: a computer housed in a small frame or cabinet, usually used for multiuser applications, that does not require a temperature-controlled environment or special power supply; saying "midframe computer" is redundant


MIDI: musical instrument digital interface


millisecond: abbreviation is ms


Milnet: along with Arpanet, the main constituent of the Defense Data Network (DDN); Minet is the European split-off from Milnet


Mil-Std: military standard; not the same as DoD-Std



MIMD: multiple instruction, multiple data. Pronounced "mimdee" and takes "a" as its article; spell out on first use unless context dictates otherwise; add hyphens when used as a modifier


MIME: Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions


MIMO: multiple input, multiple output


mini- (prefix): not hyphenated when used to form a compound (minicartridges)


MiniDIP: trademark name for a dual in-line package


MINX: Multimedia Information Network Exchange


MIP mapping: multiple texture mapping technique


MIPS: million instructions per second; also, MIPS Technologies Inc., a subsidiary of SGI; use full name when context requires it


MIT: Massachusetts Institute of Technology; spell out on first use if context dictates


MITI: Japan's Ministry of International Trade and Industry


MITRE: preferred format for this company's name


mL: millilambert


ml: milliliter (5-ml strip, 0.5 ml)


mm: millimeter (35-mm film, 0.5 mm)


MMOG: massively multiplayer online game


MMU: memory management unit


MobiCom: For 1999 and before, the conference acronym format is MobiCom 99; for 2000 and afterwards, the format is MobiCom 2000. The full conference name is, for example, 6th Ann. Int'l Conf. Mobile Computing and Networking (MobiCom 2000), 2000.


mobile phone: not hyphenated, even when it's an adjective


mockup: (n, adj)


MODFET: modulation doped field-effect transistor


molecular dynamics: hyphenated when it's an adjective


Moore's law: a theory predicting that the number of transistors on a chip doubles as technology advances


MOPS: million operations per second


Morgan Kaufmann: publisher


MOS (adj): metal-oxide-semiconductor


MOSFET: metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistor


MOSI: Microprocessor Operating Systems Interface, IEEE Standard 855-1990


mother: one of several family words used to describe relationships among nodes in databases; preferred usage is gender-neutral parent; however, do not change without checking with author


motherboard: a circuit board into which various processor boards are plugged


Motorola: do not follow with "Inc." as there is confusion in the company about whether "Inc." or "Corp." is appropriate, even though company stationery uses "Inc." Use the MC prefix when referring to the specific microprocessor from Motorola, for example, MC68030. Use M68000 when referring to the family of devices that share the M68000 architecture.


Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG): family of standards for coding audio-visual information


MP3, MP4: audio file formats




MPI: message passing interface


MPU: microprocessing unit


MPW: an Apple development environment for the Mac


MRI: magnetic resonance imaging


ms: millisecond


MS-DOS: Microsoft's version of DOS; see also DOS


MSI: medium-scale integration


MSPS: million searches per second


MTBF: mean time between failures


MTTR: mean time to repair, mean time to restore


MTU: maximum transmission unit


mu (m): Greek letter used as a symbol for micron


multi- (prefix): Do not hyphenate when used to form a compound, except with "double-i" combinations (multimeter; multi-integral).


Multibus, Multibus II: Intel trademarks; IEEE 796 is the multibus standard


multiplexer (n)


MUT: module under test


mux: multiplexer; muxes (plural): spell out on first reference


MVP: matrix-vector product, the primary operation around which supercomputers are designed


MVS: an IBM mainframe operating system


MW: megawatt (2 MW, 2-MW system)


mW: milliwatt (200 mW, 200-mW system)


Mycin: an expert system that can be programmed with knowledge databases for different domains




9/07 Xen: open source virtualization software


9/11; September 11, 2001


n: SI prefix for one billionth or nano (100 ns)


n: variable designation for an integer; italicized


N.: "north" in addresses


N/A: not applicable


NAA: formerly the National Association of Accountants; reincarnated as the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA)






nano- (prefix): one billionth; do not use hyphen (nanoseconds, 100 ns)


narrow band (n), narrow-band (adj): however, according to the IEEE Dictionary of Electrical and Electronic Terms, narrowband or narrow band are used as adjectives in some contexts.


NASA: National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Washington, D.C.


     Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.


     Dryden Research Center, Edwards AFB, Calif.


     Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.


     Jet Propulsion Lab, Pasadena, Calif.


     Johnson Space Flight Center, Houston


     Kennedy Space Flight Center, Cape Canaveral, Fla.


     Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va.


     Lewis Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio


     Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala.


NASA Massively Parallel Processor


NAT: network address translator


NBS: National Bureau of Standards, an agency of the US Commerce Dept.; obsolete, now known as NIST


NC: numerical control


NCCCD: National Center for Computer Crime Data


NCGA: National Computer Graphics Association


n-channel; n-channel device: insulated-gate field-effect transistor where source and drain are regions of n-type conductivity


NCSA: National Center for Supercomputing Applications


nCube: in preference to nCUBE or nCUBE


NCP: Network-Control Protocol


Net: short name for the Internet




NetBIOS: a product that provides basic I/O services for a network; do not use as a synonym for "network BIOS" or "LAN BIOS," which are generic terms for a BIOS designed for a local area network


Netherlands: use the


netlist (n, adj): a list of the pin connections (pin network) that appear on a printed circuit board




Newton-Raphson: a well-known algorithm for solving equations


NeXT: logo form of the name of the computer company started by Steve Jobs


NFS: Network File System (from Sun Microsystems' application, SunSoft)


NGSCB: Microsoft's next-generation secure computing base


NIST: National Institute of Standards and Technology; formerly NBS


nm: nanometer


NMOS: n-channel metal oxide semiconductor


no.: abbreviation for number; nos. (plural)


NOAA: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an agency in the US Dept. of Commerce; although sometimes pronounced "noah," it takes an as an article, as if each letter were pronounced ("an NOAA study")


NoD: news on demand


node: family words—mother, daughter, child—are used to describe relationships among nodes in databases; the terms are legitimate—don't try to edit them out


non- (prefix): not usually hyphenated; be flexible with words that are difficult to read, for example, non-negligible, non-real-time mode


non–von Neumann: see von Neumann; in this case, an en-dash is recommended over a hyphen


NP-hard; NP-complete: classes of difficult problems


n-queen's solver


ns: nanoseconds (3,000 ns)


NSA: National Security Agency


NSERC: Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council; a Canadian research agency similar to the US National Science Foundation


NSF: US National Science Foundation; NSF is acceptable on second reference or on first reference in the acknowledgment section of a feature when used with grant number




NSPE: National Society of Professional Engineers




Numbers and Symbols: see special section and CMS, Section 9


NTSC: National TV Standards Committee; note: committee and standard use same acronym


Nurbs: nonuniform rational B-spline




NW: northwest in addresses, no periods


NYU/IBS Ultracomputer




OASI: Office Automation Society International


OASIS: Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards;


Object Management Group: OMG


Object Modeling Technique: OMT


object orientation


object-oriented (OO): an approach to programming that stresses the creation of functions (objects) that are linked in various relationships, usually in hierarchies, to provide the desired functionality; compare with traditional approaches such as imperative programming, which stresses actions to be taken rather than relationships between objects


Objective-C: a computer language


Occam: language used by Inmos for its transputer chip


OCR: optical character recognition; the machine is an OCR scanner


octree: a tree structure that describes the division of a cubic region into smaller cubes


OCX: optical cross-connect


ODBC: open database connectivity


OEM: original equipment manufacturer


OFDM: orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing


off-chip (adj)


offline: all uses, as in the printer is offline, offline equipment


offload, offscreen, offsite


The Ohio State University: the Ohio State University in text


ohm (n): a unit of electrical resistance


OIL: ontology inference layer; see also DAML+OIL




OLAP: online analytical processing


OLE: object linking and embedding; a Microsoft item


OLED: organic light-emitting diode


OLTP: online transaction processing


OMG: Object Management Group


Omnimax (n, adj): a stereoscopic, eggshell-shaped theater


OMT: object modeling technique


ONA: Open Network Architecture


onboard: all uses, as in onboard regulation


on-chip (adj): as in on-chip logic


on-demand: (adj.)


online: all uses, as in the printer is online, online equipment


onscreen, onsite


ONR: US Office of Naval Research


OO: object-oriented


op amp: operation amplifier; spell out in text on first use


opcode (n): operation code


OpenGL: a graphics programming language


open-loop (adj): as in an open-loop program


open loop (n): a system in which there is no feedback mechanism for self-correction as there is in a closed loop


open source (n, adj): don't use as a verb (instead, consider wording such as "released X as open source")


order-of-magnitude (adj)


ORB: object request broker


ORSA: merged with the Institute of Management Sciences in 1995 to become the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS)


orthogonal: In linear algebra, the term describes a set of vectors that are independent, in that no element is a linear combination of the others. In programming, the term is used more loosely to refer to independent—although possibly related—concepts.


OS: operating system


OSI: open systems interconnection; a concept whereby different vendors' products work together


OSPF: Open Shortest Path First Protocol




out queue (n), out-queue (adj)


OWL: Web Ontology Language