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a section of a computer program that is stored only once but can be used when required at several different points in the program, thus saving space
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



the part of a computer program that is used to solve similar-type problems. A subroutine usually describes a separate step in the computation process and can be used more than once in one or several different programs. Typical subroutines are used to compute elementary functions, such as sin x, In x, and e-x, to solve systems of equations, and to remove the results of computations in various forms. If it becomes necessary to use the subroutine during the running of the basic program, the subroutine is called at the appropriate place in the program, and after it has been run, control is transferred back to the main program. A subroutine can call on another.

A subroutine should have the following characteristics: it should be subject to standardized access rules that make it possible to call the subroutine from the main program by means of one or more instructions; it should be able to work with a broad range of initial data, for example, independent variables of a function; it should be relocatable, that is, it should be possible to place and run it in various parts of the computer memory. Subroutines are often arranged in subroutine libraries. So-called standard subroutines satisfying rigid conditions are used in automatic programming.

The use of subroutines is one way to save time and effort in writing computer programs. Subroutines form the basis of modular programming.


Lavrov, S. S. Vvedenie v programmirovanie. Moscow, 1973. (Bibliography.)


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


(computer science)
A body of computer instruction (and the associated constants and working-storage areas, if any) designed to be used by other routines to accomplish some particular purpose.
A statement in FORTRAN used to define the beginning of a closed subroutine (first definition).
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


(Or "procedure") A sequence of instructions for performing a particular task. Most programming languages, including most machine languages, allow the programmer to define subroutines. This allows the subroutine code to be called from multiple places, even from within itself (in which case it is called recursive). The programming language implementation takes care of returning control to (just after) the calling location, usually with the support of call and return instructions at machine language level.

Most languages also allow arguments to be passed to the subroutine, and one, or occasionally more, return values to be passed back.

A function is often very similar to a subroutine, the main difference being that it is called chiefly for its return value, rather than for any side effects.
This article is provided by FOLDOC - Free Online Dictionary of Computing (


A group of instructions that perform a specific task. A large subroutine might be called a "module" or "procedure." Subroutine is somewhat of a dated term, but it is still quite valid.
Copyright © 1981-2019 by The Computer Language Company Inc. All Rights reserved. THIS DEFINITION IS FOR PERSONAL USE ONLY. All other reproduction is strictly prohibited without permission from the publisher.
References in periodicals archive ?
Figure 1 represents the working of remote procedure call for a function pow that returns a long value
If you haven't heard about a procedure called transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), it's only a matter of time before you will.
Led by Samir Kapadia, MD, director of the Sones Cardiac Catheterization Laboratories at Cleveland Clinic, the study further supports the use of a promising new procedure called transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR).
Yet, a new intervention procedure called HEAR (Hearing Aid Reintroduction], developed by University of Missouri researchers, helps seniors gradually adjust to wearing the devices and to the change in volume and sounds.
* Stored Procedure Visibility shows you what's inside costly procedure calls. It not only summarizes all procedures and their costs, it also allows you to see the SQL statements within a called stored procedure and their respective costs plus key metrics.
This court, however, invoked a rare legal procedure called a "Gett Zikui"a divorce of creditin order to free the woman, who is 34 years old, from her marriage.
The surgery is an arthroscopic procedure called a partial meniscectomy, and doctors perform it to relieve pain and other symptoms associated with a tear in the knee's meniscus.
New research involving data on 38,000 older adults suggests that a procedure called catheter ablation may reduce the risk of stroke among individuals with A-fib to levels seen in individuals without the disorder.
Doctors performed a unique procedure called amniotic membrane transplantation, which restored her eyesight substantially.
Immy, who has cerebral palsy, underwent a procedure called selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) surgery in the USA in May and is making progress in her mobility and strength as a result.
I had a procedure called ablation that didn't work.
After the ink is applied, the cells are heated to about 500[degrees]C (932[degrees]F), a procedure called "sintering," to fuse the nanoparticles together.

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