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Glossary* Application Systems - computer system components that are "applied.' to the solution of a particular functional problem. For example, the application systems for the SSA current process include enumeration, earnings, claims, and post-entitlement, among others. Asymmetric - refers to the segmentation of the SSA data base by func- t~onal applications. An asymmetrically segmented data base would, for example, contain separate client applications on such items as enumeration, claims, payments, etc. See symmetric. catch Processing - the periodic processing of data accumulated over a period of time as distinguished from a real-time cycle where the individual transaction is presented to the system for essentially immediate processing. Bit - the binary digit which is the fundamental unit of information in a computer system. The bit has two states: on and off, which can be interpreted as true or false, yes or no, or one (1) or zero (O), depend- ing on the context. Bridging - the conversion of data from one process into a format suit- able for referencing by a second process during a conversion cycle. The bridging of information to a new process is often necessary when the data base has not been converted from the old to the new format. B _ - an ordered collection of adjacent binary digits (usually 8 bits) operated on as a unit which can be interpreted depending on the context as (1) an integer number in the range O to 225, (2) a standard graphic character (such as a letter in the alphabet), or (3) any other arbitrary symbol. *This glossary was compiled by the panel with the assistance of SSA officials. 87
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88 Central Processing Unit - (CPU) - the section of a computer system that performs the logic and arithmetic operations required to process data. Claims System - the application subsystem that determines claims entitle- ment for clients of the Social Security Administration system. Communications Network - a collection of communications lines, control computers, and other equipment that collectively comprises a communica- tions capability interconnecting a number of locations. Conversion - the process of making a change from a present method of _. . . - executing a specific task to a new method of performing that same task-- e.g., conversion from the current to the future SSA process. Current Process - the collection of applications systems--hardware, soft- ware, and procedures--that are currently used for performing the SSA process. Cycle - an event that occurs on a periodic basis, e.g., the period of processing and referencing of data by a computer system. Cycle can also mean the time for a CPU to perform a specific operation. Data Base - a collection of information in a structured format made available to processing systems or to users of the data base for referencing purposes. See Record. Data Processing - the application of computer systems and storage media , to the management and processing of data. Direct Access Memory Device - a storage medium commonly used by data processing systems in which information is located by specifying its location in the medium. Examples are drum or disk storage. Disk Storage - a direct access storage device that can store from a few million up to several hundred million bytes of data. It is comprised of magnetically coated disks that are structured vertically and rotate around a single axis. Distributed Processing - a method of processing that uses a number of interconnected computers, usually geographically separated, to share a processing load. Earnings System - the application subsystem of the SSA process that manages the storing and record-keeping related to the earnings of a client of the Social Security Administration system. Enumeration System - the application subsystem that manages the assignment and integrity of the Social Security Number assigned each
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89 client of the Social Security Administration system which uniquely identifies his or her record within the data base. File - a part of a data base consisting of similar data, usually main- tained throughout its processing life on the same type of storage-- such as disk, magnetic tape, or mass storage. See Record. Hard copy - information or data, either manually prepared or computer- generated, which can be read by a human and is usually available on paper, microfilm or microforms. Hardware - the electronic equipment of computer and/or communications systems. The computer, terminal devices, modems, and data communica- tions circuits are considered hardware, as differentiated from software, which is the stored programs that apply hardware to a function or task. Hierarchy - a structured array of information, equipments, or other items, with graded relationships among the items. Interactive - descriptive of the response between a computer system and . a user when the cycle time for a response is under a few seconds. Magnetic Tape - an electronic storage medium that utilizes thin magneti- cally coated plastic strips, typically 2400 feet long and less than an inch wide, on which information is stored sequentially. The tape is usually eight bits (one byte) wide, with 800, 1600, or 6250 bytes stored per inch. Mass Storage - the storage of a large amount of data readily accessible to a central processing unit. Mass Storage System - a complex of mass storage devices such as magnetic tape and disk units, capable of accommodating very large quantities, (approaching 500 billion bytes of data per complex) in an on-line storage medium. Such a system incorporates the advantages of disk storage for direct access to information and magnetic tape storage for sequential access. Master File - a main reference file that is typically the primary file - supporting an application subsystem. For example' in the enumeration system, there would be a client master file in which information is maintained on all clients of the SSA system indexed by social security numbers. Management Information System (MIS) - a data processing subsystem asso- ciated with a process that collects data regarding the administration and performance of the service delivery system to which it is attached. An MIS is useful in measuring the efficiency of a service delivery process.
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so Nanosecond - one billionth of a second. GAS - the Office of Advanced Systems. The organization within the Social Security Administration responsible for developing the future SSA process. On-Line - the capability of a computer system to process information in a matter of seconds. See Real-Time. Packet Switching - a communications technology in which information is transmitted as discrete separable packets. Parallel - in computer terminology, the concurrent operation of old and new processes during the transition period; verification of the new process takes place simultaneously with the execution of the old one. Parallel is also used in this document to indicate simultaneous develop- ment of various aspects of the system. Partitioning - the structuring and segmentation of information files or processes to simplify their management, development, operation, or maintenance. Post-Entitlement System - the application subsystem of the SSA process entitlement and benefit payments for clients whose benefits have been authorized. Processing - the use of a computer to manage, inspect, or make decisions on the basis of information maintained in a data base. Protocol - refers to the procedures utilized in a communications system to determine the sequence of interactions between points in the network to indicate the efficiency of transmission. Queue - a list of actions waiting to be carried out by a processing or communications point within a computer/communications network. Real Time - pertaining to the actual time during which a physical process transpires. On-line systems respond to inquiries in a matter of seconds; a real-time computer system response could be in the microsecond range. Record - a collection of information about a particular individual, event, or activity treated as a unit, and varying from a few bytes to a few hundred bytes of data. A collection of records comprises a file; and a collection of files could be considered a data base. Response Time - the time required by a computer system to respond to a @ @ @ request for action or In :onmatton.
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91 Segmentation - the division of information, activities, or processes into smaller parts for improved management, maintenance, or control. Sequential Access - the procedure for accessing records in a file in some ordered sequence. Software - computer programs, routines, systems. SSA - the Social Security Administration. and programming languages and SSADARS - Social Security Administration Data Acquisition and Response System. This is a communications system providing on-line access between a part of the SSA system and many of the records main- tained in the Baltimore center. SSN - social security number. The basic identification number for the SSA client. Standard - equipments or software that can be expected to be utilized by commercial users over the next few years. Symmetric - refers to the segmentation of a data base into homogeneous parts--specifically, the segmentation of the SSA data base into groups of records keyed by social security numbers where each record maintains all of the information regarding the particular client identified by a social security number. System Software - the program of computer instructions that directly ._ supports the management, maintenance, and operation of a computer sys- tem, i.e., software that is independent of the application systems. Examples of system software include device service routines, data base management systems, operating systems, communications systems, and language processors. Terminal - a device utilized to allow human access to a computer or com- munications system for input or retrieval of information. Examples are hard copy keyboard terminals, line printers, optical character readers, or any other input-output device. Transaction - a collection of information in a format that describes a process or event to be serviced by a computer system, e.g., an inquiry into the information data base. Transactions can be either on-line or batch; can refer to either the data that describes the transaction or the process utilized to service a request. Transaction File - a transaction file is a collection of transaction records maintained in a file format, usually in sequence.
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92 Transition - the change from a current state to a future one. The tran- sition referred to in this document relates specifically to the orderly change from the current SSA process to the future one. Video Terminal - a terminal that utilizes a video display, such as a cathode-ray tube (CRT), a gas panel, or similar means for communicating information to the user. Whole-Person Concept - a system design concept that relates all information about a client of the Social Security Administration system as an individual. Thus, a change to a client's information would be made in all records about that individual. For example, an address change input into the system for an individual would only be required once to change all pertinent records. * U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE: 1973—260-955:323
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Representative terms from entire chapter: