multitasking

Popular Terms
Running two or more programs at the same time on the same single-processor (single CPU) computer. This seemingly simultaneous processing is deceptive because the CPU is actually attending to only one program at any given moment. The currently running program is said to be in the 'foreground,' all other programs are said to be running in the 'background.' Multitasking is of two main types: (1) in preemptive multitasking (such as in Linux, Unix, and Windows) the operating system (OS) controls the back-and-forth switching between the programs, and each program gets its turn in a predictable manner, (2) in non-preemptive multitasking (such as in Novell Netware) a program runs until it stops itself and its execution cannot be interrupted.
See also multithreading.

Notable Quotable

Avoid Multitasking
"Don't multitask. Multitasking is something we all do these days. The problem is our brains just arenít cut out for it. When you multitask, youíre interfering with your brainís ability to perform at max-capacity. Yes, you can walk and chew gum at the same time. But in most cases, multitasking=lesstasking. When you make those shifts from one context to another, you risk dropping things from your short-term memory. Do one thing at a time, minimize context shifts, maximize brain power!"
- Douglas Merrill


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