black art

A collection of arcane, unpublished, and (by implication) mostly ad-hoc techniques developed for a particular application or systems area (compare black magic). VLSI design and compiler code optimisation were (in their beginnings) considered classic examples of black art; as theory developed they became deep magic, and once standard textbooks had been written, became merely heavy wizardry. The huge proliferation of formal and informal channels for spreading around new computer-related technologies during the last twenty years has made both the term "black art" and what it describes less common than formerly. See also voodoo programming.

[Jargon File]

black box


An abstraction of a device or system in which only its externally visible behaviour is considered and not its implementation or "inner workings".

See also functional testing.

Last updated: 1997-07-03

black-box testing

functional testing

Black Data Processing Associates


(BDPA) A non-profit professional association, founded in 1975 to promote positive influence in the information technology (IT) industry and how it affects African Americans. The BDPA facilitates African American professional participation in local and national activities keeping up with developing IT trends.

BDPA offers a forum for exchanging information and ideas about the computer industry. It provides numerous networking opportunities through monthly program meetings, seminars, and workshops and the annual national conference. Membership is open to anyone interested in IT.

The Foundation provides scholarships to students who compete in an annual Visual Basic competition.

E-mail: <[email protected]>.

Telephone: Ms. Pat Drumming, +1 (800) 727-BDPA.

Last updated: 1996-04-07

black hat


Someone who uses his skills for criminal or malicious ends. Black hat activities may include, e.g., writing destructive viruses, launching denial of service attacks on websites, or stealing credit card numbers or banking data by phishing.

Last updated: 2019-03-16

black hole

1. An expression which depends on its own value or a technique to detect such expressions. In graph reduction, when the reduction of an expression is begun, the root of the expression can be overwritten with a black hole. If the expression depends on its own value, e.g.

 x = x + 1

then it will try to evaluate the black hole which will usually print an error message and abort the program. A secondary effect is that, once the root of the expression has been black-holed, parts of the expression which are no longer required may be freed for garbage collection.

Without black holes the usual result of attempting to evaluate an expression which depends on itself would be a stack overflow. If the expression is evaluated successfully then the black hole will be updated with the value.

Expressions such as

 ones = 1 : ones

are not black holes because the list constructor, : is lazy so the reference to ones is not evaluated when evaluating ones to WHNF.

2. Where an electronic mail message or news aritcle has gone if it disappears mysteriously between its origin and destination sites without returning a bounce message. Compare bit bucket.

[Jargon File]


<software, security>

A commercial firewall and intrusion detection system.

BlackIce Home.

Last updated: 2003-09-13

black magic


(Or "FM") A technique that works, though nobody really understands why. More obscure than voodoo programming, which may be done by cookbook.

Compare black art, deep magic, and magic number.

Last updated: 2001-04-30

Nearby terms:

Bjarne StroustrupBJC4000black artblack boxblack-box testing

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