Originally published on PURE LAMBDA.
Dictionary of buzzwords
Quantum Computing, Blockchain, DAO, Metaverse… We read or hear those “new” words almost daily. Some words are strange acronyms, and others call for a dispute over their definition…
At PURE LAMBDA, we have noticed that it’s very common to find yourself in a meeting where people throw around tech buzzwords without really understanding what they mean. That is why we have decided to list the most frequent buzzwords in tech, and give clear, straightforward definitions for each.
This Tech Buzzword Dictionary is educational, the first basis for all curious minds, but also a point of reference for investors that sometimes need to navigate through the complexity of many buzzwords to understand the core of the business. This dictionary is free of use and is in alphabetical order.
If you cannot find a word you heard or have any feedback, make sure to send us a message.
AI, Artificial Intelligence
Artificial Intelligence or AI is a marketing term designating current technologies involving machine learning and deep learning. The current implementations of Artificial Intelligence have nothing to do with “natural intelligence” displayed by humans. Contemporary Artificial Intelligence is an elaborate technique to automate processes such as classifying, planning, categorizing, auto-completing, etc.
What we see in movies as “ Artificial Intelligence” is called “ Artificial general intelligence” or AGI.
API, Application Programming Interface
API is the acronym for Application Programming Interface, an intermediary protocol or, more simply, a language that allows two applications or computers to talk to each other. REST (or Representational state transfer) is one common way to build APIs which can then be accessed through HTTP, URLs, or JSON. GraphQL, an open-source data query, is another standard way to create an API.
AR, Augmented Reality
AR ( Augmented Reality) is an experience that uses technology such as transparent glasses with a built-in screen, like Google Glass, or just the screen of your phone.
It uses objects from the real world but is enhanced by computer-generated perceptual information. AR adds a “layer” on top of Reality, but it does not replace it.
Big Data is a term that designates the processing of large data sets, too large and/or too complex to be dealt with by traditional data-processing application software. The definition has evolved over time. A few terabytes were considered a large amount of data just a few years ago. Nowadays, it can be as much as petabytes, a measure of memory or data storage capacity equal to 2 to the 50th power of bytes.
To generalize, if more than one computer (also called a cluster) is needed to process the data, it is considered “ Big Data”.
A blockchain is a decentralized, distributed, and often public, digital shared database or ledger, collecting information in groups identified as blocks that hold sets of information, forming a chain of data. There are many misconceptions about blockchain, but it is nothing more than a database offering immutability and traceability of the data on one side.
The advantage of this database (immutability and traceability) are well suited for specific application such as finance (with cryptocurrencies) or traceability of ownership (such as fractional ownership with tokenization; and NFTs).
Simply put, cloud computing is a bunch of computers working together in a data center and offering storage, databases, networking, software, analytics, and intelligence services. It is a way to outsource the maintenance of a data center. You don’t have to buy, upgrade, or maintain your own servers, thanks to cloud computing.
Instead of an upfront cost to buy expensive hardware, you have a monthly cost based on usage.
Cloud computing is what allows companies to leverage clusters of computers working together to enable the processing of big data.
Cloud-native computing is a software development approach that leverages cloud computing to build and run scalable applications in modern, dynamic environments such as public, private, and hybrid clouds.
Cloud-native companies will often offer a SaaS business model to allow continuous earnings matching their continuous expenses.
A cluster computing is a network of computers. It is a set of computers working together as one single system so that the computers can process data more efficiently. This enables “ decentralized computing”.
One example of a decentralized computing framework is Apache Spark.
Cryptocurrency is a digital currency stored in a digital ledger or blockchain that is not linked to any central authority or banks and works as a medium of exchange. This ledger can be assigned to a value if people start using it to exchange goods and services or allow conversion from and to a recognized currency.
Customization refers to a range of settings that the end users can tweak to make their experience fit their needs.
Personalization is how a service/platform can change itself based on user actions, often using “ artificial intelligence”. For Instance, the poster for shows and movies on Netflix is different for each user based on their affinities; for the same movie: if you are a fan of sci-fi, a robot might be on the poster, but if you are a fan of romance, the two main characters might be shown instead. It works in a similar way to the recommendations on Amazon.
DAO, Decentralized Autonomous Organisation
A DAO, or a “decentralized autonomous organization”, is a new type of organization that leverages auto-organization, constructed by rules encoded as a transparent computer program, without central control or leadership.
DAOs have existed for a long time, but we have seen exponential growth since 2021, with DeFi protocols, build on blockchain, delegating governance to their communities. DAOs have been so far mainly connected to the crypto world. Still, this decentralized model is being quickly embraced by the traditional organization where ownership is distributed, giving one direction to “ do what is left to do” rather than “ do what you are told”.
Check out this blog article about Gumroad and how they have an organization without meetings, deadlines, or full-time employees.
Deep Learning is a type of neural network or machine learning that imitates how humans’ brains function. It is a multi-connected network of operations that are trained to produce certain expected results. “Deep” refers to the number of layers the data goes through before giving a result.
DevOps designates a team or person in a company responsible for the overall I.T. infrastructure of the company or a set of practices that combines software development (Dev) and I.T. operations (Ops).
The Tech infrastructure would include the cloud, the databases, the server hosts, etc. To summarize, DevOps maintain everything required to execute and serve the product to customers but the development of the product itself is done by software engineers.
DevOps are becoming increasingly essential with the rise and democratization of cloud-native companies.
Digital transformation is an organization adopting digital technologies to modernize and simplify its processes.
Adapting digital transformation within its processes means embracing the web, embracing paperless documentation, and enabling the collection and the use of Big Data.
Edge computing is a new trend rising, mainly because of mobile phones. It consists of capturing, storing, processing, and analyzing data near the client, where the data is generated. The advantage is that no private information is being sent over to the cloud, and it allows the companies to limit their resort to more servers to compute the data because the end user’s device is doing it.
This has been required recently because of the usage of machine learning at every level of software. And has been made possible with the development and miniaturization of TPUs (Tensor Processing Units) which makes the use of machine learning models more efficient.
Human-centered design is a problem-solving technique where the user experience is the main focus, enabling the creation of products or services tailored to a specific audience’s needs.
IDE, Integrated Development Environment
IDE ( Integrated Development environments) are applications that facilitate the development of other applications. It is like a fancy notepad or text editor where you can write and execute code. It often has features to increase the developer’s productivity, such as autocomplete or syntax error detection as well as debugging tools.
IoT, Internet Of Things
Internet of Things, also called IoT, designates how more numerous smaller devices can now be connected to the global Internet. For Instance: cameras, appliances, sensors, etc. This IoT global movement increased the quantity of data collected, allowing the development of new applications. The data used in Big Data application is often collected from IoT devices.
A strong focus must be placed on cybersecurity when adventuring in this field. Those devices are very cheap and straightforward, but they can be the perfect breach in your network for malicious agents.
Machine Learning, Ml
Machine Learning would be a more accurate term for referring to what we call “artificial intelligence”. It relates to many techniques to train computer algorithms, including neural networks, random forest, k-means clustering, etc.
The objective is to teach software applications to become more accurate at predicting outcomes without being explicitly programmed to do so.
Contrary to today’s belief, the Multiverse or Metaverse is nothing new. It is a pretty old concept that started many years ago with games such as Second Life.
The general public is discovering today what gamers have been experiencing for many years. The challenge in this industry will be to consolidate the large business opportunity for brands with the lack of interest from the public.
The No-Code movement is a set of new services allowing non-software engineers to build applications with drag-and-drop user interfaces. No-code is becoming increasingly popular to create more diverse types of applications such as data processing, website, mobile application, database, machine learning, and more.
The current state of the no-code tools allow for the development of prototype and POC very easily, but it can be challenging to maintain a full production-ready product using only no-code.
Feel free to revisit our interview on “ How to build a tech team?” where I spoke about the no-code Mouvement.
A platform is just a way to talk about a website or a multi-device website, such as a website that can also be rendered as a mobile application.
Quantum Computing is a relatively new rapidly-emerging technology using the laws of quantum mechanics to solve problems too complex for classical computers.
The main difference between classical and quantum computing is the underlying technology regarding how the bits are constructed. In classic computing, bits are made of transistors and can hold a 0 or 1 value. They are like mini interrupters. In quantum computing, bits are made of quantum systems that can take values between 0 and 1 with the probability of being in one or the other. For Instance, a bit can be in a state with a 30% chance of being 0 and a 70% chance of being 1. Quantum computing allows the development of new algorithms to speed up computing tremendously for particular use cases.
SDK, Software Development Kit
A software development kit is a collection of software development tools in one installable package. Some extensive and complex frameworks are so large they are divided into two parts. The first one is the runtime environment that allows you to run and execute the software. The second is the SDK, enabling you to write and develop the software.
It usually includes more tools for debugging and development. Usually, it is done that way because the SDK is heavier in terms of memory usage and the runtime environment is lighter and ready to be used for every end user.
SaaS, Software As A Service
Software as a service (or SaaS) is a way of delivering applications over the Internet as a service. Instead of installing the software on your local computer, you pay a subscription and access the software online via the Internet. The software is running in the cloud and only displays the result of the operations to the end users.
Tokenization is the process of converting classic ownership rights into a purely digital representation of the asset so that it can be subdivided, traded, and stored on a blockchain, used as a database.
Token ownership does not mean automatically shared ownership. It is cheaper to put in place than proper shares allocation, but it has drawbacks.
For instance, governments do not always recognize this form of ownership. In case of conflict, you might not have any recourse to defend yourself.
VR, Virtual Reality
VR ( Virtual Reality) is an experience using virtual reality headsets. VR creates computer-simulated environments. Scenes and objects can appear to be real, but there are not.
It was historically mainly used in the video game industry but recently it has seen more use in the design industry or art creation.
XaaS, Everything As A Service
XaaS (Everything as a service) is a more extensive term than SaaS, englobing all the tools and services related to cloud computing and remote access. Accelerated by COVID-19, the XaaS sector has grown, creating compelling value for businesses and consumers.