Machine Word

machine word

[mə′shēn ‚wərd]
(computer science)
The fundamental unit of information in a word-organized digital computer, consisting of a fixed number of binary bits, decimal digits, characters, or bytes.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Machine Word


in a digital computer, an ordered set of symbols (digits, letters, etc.) stored in an internal memory and retrievable during processing as a unified coded block (word).

The machine word is the unit of information in a computer. A machine word may be an instruction or number; it may be alphabetic or alphanumeric data. A machine word consists of digits (symbol positions) that are often interrelated and numbered for clarity. The number of digits determines the length of the machine word, which may be fixed (as in the M-220, BESM-4, and Minsk-22 computers) or variable (as in the Ural-14, BESM-6, and IBM 360). The machine’s memory is more fully utilized with variable-length machine words. A single memory cell may accommodate several machine words, one whole machine word, or part of a machine word. One accordingly addresses either the entire machine word, or its beginning and end, or only its beginning, but in the last case the entire length of the word must be indicated. Instructions and numbers often have equal lengths (for example, 45 digits in the BESM-4 and 37 digits in the Minsk-22) and occupy one memory cell.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
A typical modern computer has anywhere from 16 to 64 bits of storage in each machine word. In binary representation, a word size of K bits can store numbers in the range [-2.sup.K] to [2.sup.K] - 1 on most computers.
How large a number one can store in a single machine word greatly affects how fast one can factor large integers.
We need a total of 23 bits to store each edge in the array, so an edge can conveniently fit into a 32-bit machine word (or if more space efficiency is desired, into three 8-bit bytes).
Because there are only 26 letters in the alphabet, we can conveniently store each cross-check set as a bit-vector in one 32-bit machine word, and do membership testing quickly.
The most direct way to apply Theorem 1 is to store a vector V in two separate machine words that correspond directly to [V.sub.1] and [V.sub.2].

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