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batch processing
Last modified: Tuesday, January 27, 2004 

Executing a series of noninteractive jobs all at one time. The term originated in the days when users entered programs on punch cards. They would give a batch of these programmed cards to the system operator, who would feed them into the computer.

Batch jobs can be stored up during working hours and then executed during the evening or whenever the computer is idle. Batch processing is particularly useful for operations that require the computer or a peripheral device for an extended period of time. Once a batch job begins, it continues until it is done or until an error occurs. Note that batch processing implies that there is no interaction with the user while the program is being executed.

An example of batch processing is the way that credit card companies process billing. The customer does not receive a bill for each separate credit card purchase but one monthly bill for all of that month’s purchases. The bill is created through batch processing, where all of the data are collected and held until the bill is processed as a batch at the end of the billing cycle.

The opposite of batch processing is transaction processing or interactive processing. In interactive processing, the application responds to commands as soon as you enter them.

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