IEEE Computer Society Style Guide

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P2P: peer-to-peer


P3P: Platform for Privacy Preferences; a W3C standard


p: not italicized when used to indicate probability


p: SI prefix for one trillionth or pico (3 ps)


p.: abbreviation for page when referred to in text; use pp. for multiple pages


PABX: private automated branch exchange, a telephone system


packet: a packed block of data for data transmission


PAD: packet assembler/disassembler


PADL: Part and Assembly Description Language, developed at the University of Rochester




PAL: phase alternating line—a European video standard; also the acronym for Paradox Application Language


Palm Pilot


PAN: personal area network


PAR: project authorization request


parameterization: not parametrization; to split at the end of a line, note that parameter and like words are split after the m, for example: param-eter; but parametric is split before the m: para-metric; automatic hyphenation programs tend to split parameter incorrectly


PARC: Palo Alto Research Center


ParcTab: the first context-sensitive computer, developed at Xerox PARC. Note the capitalization.


parseable (alternate spelling: parsable)


PASC: Portable Applications Standards Committee


Pascal: a programming language (named for mathematician Blaise Pascal)


parent: one of several family words used to describe relationships among nodes in databases. The terms are legitimate; don't try to edit them out.






Pbps: petabits per second


p-channel (adj)


PC: personal computer; see also, IBM PC


PC-DOS: IBM's version of MS-DOS; use only when discussing applications that will run on PC-DOS but not on MS-DOS (these are largely IBM programs and there are very few of them)


PCB: printed circuit board; plural form is PCBs


PCI: peripheral component interconnect


PCM: pulse-code modulation


PCMCIA: Personal Computer Memory Card International Assoc.


PDA: personal digital assistant


PDF: portable document format


PDL: page-description language


PDP-11, PDP-11/03, PDP-11/70: Digital Equipment Corporation computers


Pentium 4


Pentium 5 (V): Pentium


Pentium 6 (VI): Pentium II


percent: spell it out; don't use %; don't use without a number as a replacement for "percentage"


Perl: Practical Extraction and Report Language


pervasive computing: when used as an adjective, no hyphen in Pervasive Computing but hyphenated in other magazines.


PET: positron emission tomography


peta: a thousand trillion (petaflops = a thousand teraflops)




Petri net (n): a graphical model of information flow, showing static and dynamic properties of a system; named after Karl Petri, a German mathematician


pF: picofarad; a unit of capacitance equal to one-trillionth of a farad


PhD: no periods


PHIGS: Programmer's Hierarchical Interactive Graphics System, an ANSI and ISO  standard


photo-: no hyphen when used as a modifier (photomultiplier)


photomicrograph: magnified picture of small things; do not confuse with microphotograph


PHP: recursive acronym for Hypertext Preprocessor, a scripting language


pico- (prefix): one trillionth, no hyphen (picogram, picosecond)


Pict: an image-file format (generally produced by Apple Macintosh programs); not the same as a .PIC graphics file, which is produced primarily by MS-DOS spreadsheet programs


PID: proportional, integral, derivative


PIM: peripheral interface module; Protocol-Independent Multicast (SM = Sparse Mode; SSM = Single-Source Multicast)


PIN: personal identification number. Don't use PIN number.




Pisces: parallel implementation of scientific computing environments


Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center: one of the four US national supercomputer centers funded by the National Science Foundation


pixel (n): derived from pix (short for "picture") and element, it is the smallest resolvable dot in an image display


PKI: public-key infrastructure


PL/I: a programming language developed by IBM (roman "I" per textbook by developer)


PLA: programmable logic array


plaintext: the intelligible form of an encrypted text, for example, plaintext contains routing information; use plain text when referring to unencrypted text, for example, user entries are in italics, the computer's response is in plain text




plug-in (n, adj)


plurals: The general rule is to add an "s": 1980s (year), 40s (temperature), HP-1000s (name), Apple IIs (name); see CMS 7.14 and 9.54


p.m.: post meridiem, meaning "after noon" (also includes 12:00 noon); see also a.m.


PMU: processor management unit


PMOS: p-channel MOS


PNG: portable network graphics


PnP: plug and play


PO: post office; in addresses, use no periods (PO Box 33)


PocketPC: brand name; pocket PC: generic term






POP3: Post Office Protocol, version 3




Posix: IEEE standard for a portable operating systems interface. The initial standard deals with portability standards for C programs on computers running Unix.


post-: no hyphen unless root is based on a proper noun (postprocessing, post-Victorian)




PostScript: a graphics- and font-description language from Adobe Systems, used primarily in desktop publishing


POTS: plain old telephone system


power down (v)




pp.: abbreviation for multiple pages; single-page references are denoted by p.


PPP: Point-to-Point Protocol


pre-: no hyphen unless root is based on a proper noun (preeminent, pre-Columbian)


prefixes: see CMS 7.85, Table 4


Prentice Hall


prepositions in titles: see the Capitalization section


president: capitalize only when referring to the President of a country


prettyprinting: the process of reformatting source code so that it has a consistent layout


price/performance ratio: written with a slash ("/"), not a hyphen


printed circuit board: board on which most components are connected by printed circuitry; PCB, PCBs are acceptable on second reference




Prism: parallel reduced-instruction-set multiprocessing (Apollo architecture)


programs and tokens: see Program Code section


Prolog: a logic programming language


PROM: programmable read-only memory


pronouns: he, she—try to use a gender-neutral alternative, for example, plural, "he or she," or "the user"


ps: picosecond


PS/2: Personal System/2, an IBM PC family based on Intel 80286/80386 processors; unlike the IBM PC AT, it has a proprietary Micro Channel bus; it can run OS/2 or MS-DOS


PSB: parallel system bus


pseudo- (prefix): no hyphen when used to form a compound (pseudorandom); word processors might hyphenate after pseu, but be careful to hyphenate after pseudo


PSN: packet-switch node




PSTN: public switched telephone network


p test


pulsewidth: not the same as pulse duration


PUMA: programmable universal mechanical assembly


p value


PWB: printed wiring board




Q-bus: from Digital Equipment Corp.


QCD: quantum chromodynamics


QED: quantum electrodynamics; also quod erat demonstrandum, "which was to be demonstrated," commonly used at the end of mathematical proofs. However, in Computer Society Transactions, this is usually replaced with a small box, known as the "tombstone" or "halmos symbol."


QoS: (n) quality of service; (adj) quality-of-service


QR code (n) quick response code


quadword: 48-bit or 32-bit piece of data


quasi, quasi-: hyphenated for adjectives (quasi-parenthetical), open for nouns, except for some established closed compounds (quasi system, quasiparticle)


Quel: a relational calculus language


quicksort routine: memory sorting


QuickTime: the Macintosh movie/animation application


quotation marks: Use around direct quotations, chapter titles, episode titles, words when referred to as words, and letters when referred to as letters. In an article that begins with a quotation, do not use the opening quotation marks with the initial drop cap (an oversized, boldface capital at the beginning of a paragraph), but close the quotation with quotation marks. Block quotations do not take quotation marks. For more information, see CMS 13.20-13.22 and 13.37-13.41.


QVGA: quarter VGA


qwerty: the standard typewriter or computer keyboard, with the letters q, w, e, r, t, and y at the upper left; no initial capital




R8000: a 64-bit RISC microprocessor introduced in 1994 by MIPS Technologies Inc. It was formerly code-named TFP. Other processors made by MIPS include the R4400 and R4600.


rackmount (adj): computer equipment that is standardized to 19 inches in width


RAID: redundant array of independent disks (originally "inexpensive" disks)


RAM: random-access memory


RAND Corp.: official format for the name of the nonprofit research corporation. In Security & Privacy, use Rand Corporation is affiliations and bios.


R&D: research and development


raster (n): the scan lines that form the graphic output on a computer display; also referred to as bitmap


raster-op: raster operation


ray tracer (n): an algorithm for drawing computer-generated shaded or highlighted images (also, a ray-tracing algorithm)


RC: resistance-capacitance


RCS: radar cross-section


RDBMS (plural—RDBMSs): relational database management system


RDF: Resource Description Framework


RDFS: RDF Schema


re-: no hyphenation in most cases; see Webster's for individual examples; watch context for words such as resign (to quit a job) or re-sign (to sign again)


readback: a way to ensure the accuracy of output by comparing the transmitted data with the original data


readout (n): a visual display of data stored electronically; read out (v)






real time (n), real-time (adj): the actual time during which something takes place


reengineer: to examine and alter a subject system to reconstitute it into a new form and to subsequently implement the new form; contrast with reverse engineering


registered trademark (â): see trademark


register-transfer (adj): as in register-transfer level


relational database: a database with data organized into tables


REST: Representational State Transfer, an XML protocol


reverse engineering (n), reverse-engineering (adj), reverse-engineer (v): to deduce the plans of something already built as opposed to reengineering an entity


Rexx: IBM's Restructured Extended Executor


RF: radio frequency


RFC: request for comments


RFID: radio frequency identification


RFP: request for proposal; spell out on first use


RGB: red, green, blue; an additive color model used in TV and raster displays


RISC: reduced-instruction-set computing or computer


RMI: remote method invocation; see Java RMI


road map


ROI: return on investment


rollout (n), roll out (v)


ROM: read-only memory (nonerasable)


roman: a type style that is not italic or boldface; no initial capital when referring to the type style


round-off error


royalty-free images


RPC: Remote Procedure Call; a protocol


RPF: reverse path forwarding


rpm: revolutions per minute


RS-232, RS-232C: hardware interface protocols


RS/6000: RISC System/6000, a workstation from IBM; comes in a variety of models, such as the IBM RS/6000 Model 350


RSCS: Remote Spooling and Communications Subsystem, the spooling protocol used in Vnet and Bitnet


RSS: Really Simple Syndication; Rich Site Summary ; RDF Site Summary—a  method of describing Web content that is available for distribution or syndication from an online publisher to Web users


RSVP: Resource Reservation Protocol


RT: register transfer


RT-11: operating system for Digital Equipment Corp. PDP-11 computers


RTCP: Real-Time Control Protocol


RTL: register transfer level; also Register Transfer Language


RTP: Real-Time Transfer Protocol


RTSP: Real-Time Streaming Protocol


RTTP: Real-Time Transport Protocol; also seen as RTP


rubberbanding: a computer graphics technique that lets lines in an image be stretched and moved as if elastic


rule set


runtime (n) (adj): the measure of the time expended to execute a program