Thread: Use of the word "vector"

  1. #1
    Registered User
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    Jun 2008

    Use of the word "vector"

    What does the word "vector" mean when it's used as a computer term? I can't see a very strong apparent connection with physics vectors or math vectors.

    From the C++ type "vector" to "vector tables" and "status vectors" and "vectored interrupts", all I can get is that it's loosely synonymous with "stored in a contiguous or connected region of memory" or "array".

    Looking it up in my dictionary isn't much help, either. Is anyone familiar with its etymology?

  2. #2
    Jack of many languages Dino's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Katy, Texas
    Yes, it means something akin to array, but from a strict data type standpoint in C, an "array" is a type with specific capabilities and limitations, thus a new word was needed.

    A vector table is something akin to a branch table, if you are familiar with Assembler programming. In this sense, a vector (an offset in the table) is a pointer to something, sometimes a piece of code to execute or it could just be data.

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  3. #3
    Deathray Engineer MacGyver's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    And there is the math term, too, in terms of coordinates.

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