file descriptor

<programming, operating system>

An integer that identifies an open file within a process. This number is obtained as a result of opening a file. Operations which read, write, or close a file would take the file descriptor as an input parameter.

In many operating system implementations, file descriptors are small integers which index a table of open files. In Unix, file descriptors 0, 1 and 2 correspond to the standard input, standard output and standard error files respectively.

See file descriptor leak.

Last updated: 1998-02-06

Nearby terms:

file control blockfile descriptorfile descriptor leakfile extension

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