Computer science from A to Z

This A-Z provides an overview of computer science research. For each letter, Inria researchers have chosen a word that sheds light on their fields of research. A short text explains the research subject, the issues involved and its applications. Compiled in collaboration with researchers, this A-Z provides an introduction only: for more detailed information, visit the Interstices website.

© INRIA Sophie Auvin - A comme Algorithme

Computer science from A to Z

A is for Algorithm

Looking up a word in a dictionary, doing an addition, finding the shortest route on a map...

To solve these problems, systematic methods exist that are sure to lead to the desired result: algorithms.

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© INRIA Sophie Auvin - B comme Bogue

Computer science from A to Z

B is for Bug

A message flashes up on your screen: “The program must close due to an unknown error.” You have just lost your last ten minutes of work...

Smile! You have fallen victim to a bug!

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© INRIA Sophie Auvin - C comme Cryptographie

Computer science from A to Z

C is for Cryptography

You can make an online card payment in a single click.

The communication is secured: a pirate intercepting the transaction would not see anything usable, just a series of seemingly meaningless figures.

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© INRIA Sophie Auvin - D comme Données

Computer science from A to Z

D is for Data

You have four friends coming over for dinner and your fridge is half-empty. You scour the index of your cookery book and find a risotto that you can rustle up with your limited provisions.

Your evening has been rescued... by a database!

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© INRIA Sophie Auvin - E comme Equation

Computer science from A to Z

E is for Equation

The great book of nature is written in the language of mathematics”, said Galileo.

But, when faced with some particularly tricky equations, scientists have found a useful ally in the computer!

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© INRIA Sophie Auvin - F comme Forme

Computer science from A to Z

F is for Form (Shape)

Recognising a face, understanding a word you hear, distinguishing "spam" from legitimate e-mails, spotting an abnormal ECG: for a computer, all these things more or less come down to the same thing... shape recognition.

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© INRIA Sophie Auvin - G comme Grille

Computer science from A to Z

G is for Grid

A bicycle manufacturer may spread the manufacturing of its bicycles' constituent parts among several plants.

Computer scientists do the same when faced with some complex calculations: they break them down into multiple tasks, which are then assigned to different computers, which perform them simultaneously.

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© INRIA Sophie Auvin - H comme Horloge

Computer science from A to Z

H is for Horology (Clocks)

Like a symphony orchestra, a computer system is composed of very varied elements: processors to process information, memories to record it, interfaces to communicate with the outside world, etc.

And the "conductor" of a computer is its clock.

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© INRIA Sophie Auvin - I comme Internet

Computer science from A to Z

I is for Internet

You want to wish a happy birthday to your old friend who has retired to Bora Bora?

You can contact him via instant messaging software and the Internet, the network of networks, which links computers all over the world.

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© INRIA Sophie Auvin - J comme Jeu

Computer science from A to Z

J is for Jeu (Games)

From its hiding place behind a treasure chest, an enormous dragon jumps out in front of you.

Its fiery breath lights up the dungeon as its glistening eyes are fixed upon you...

There's no point in running, it's only a video game!

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