If you’re a high school or university student studying computer science, you’ll likely come across many technical terms that may be unfamiliar to you. Understanding the vocabulary is crucial in mastering the concepts and principles of computer science. To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of 24 essential words that you should know in the context of computer science. Each word comes with a concise definition and an example to help you understand its usage. We hope that this list will be a valuable resource to help you succeed in your computer science studies.

AbsoluteAdj.Referring to a value without regard to its sign. The absolute value of an integer can be obtained using the Math.abs() method
AlgorithmNounA process or set of rules to be followedThe merge-sort algorithm is more efficient than the insertion sort algorithm
ArrayNounA collection of similar items in a sequenceThe array stores a list of student names
AppendVerbTo add something at the end of anotherThe program will append new data to the list
ArgumentNounA value or variable that is passed to a function or method when it is calledDon’t forget your argument when calling that function
BooleanAdj.Relating to a system of logicA boolean value can either be true or false
ClassNounA blueprint for creating objectsThe student class has several methods
CompileVerbTo convert code into executable formThe program needs to be compiled before running
ConstructorNounA special method that creates objectsThe constructor initializes the object’s properties
ElementNounA component or part of a larger structureThis list has 12 elements
IncrementNounIncrease the value of a variable by a fixed amount In the statement x = x + 1, the plus sign performs an increment operation on the variable x.
IndexNounAn identifier for a specific location in a data structureThe index of the first item in the array is 0
IntegerNounA whole numberThe variable stores an integer value of 12
IterationNounRepeating a process or set of instructionsThe loop performs several iterations
MethodNounA function associated with an objectThe method sorts the list in alphabetical order
ParameterNounA variable in a function definitionThe function takes two parameters
RecursionNounA function that calls itselfThe recursive function calculates the factorial of a number
ReturnVerbTo send back a result or valueThe function will return the total sum
ScopeNounThe area in a program where a variable can be accessedThe variable has global scope
StatementNounAn instruction in a programThe if statement checks a condition and executes code
StringNounA sequence of charactersThe variable stores a string value of “funky”
SyntaxNounThe rules that define the structure of a programming languageThe code contains a syntax error
TraversalNounVisiting and examining each item in a data structureThe traversal of the tree follows a specific order
VariableNounA named location in memory that stores a valueThe variable stores the result of a calculation

Argument or Parameter?

In computer science, the terms argument and parameter are sometimes used interchangeably, but they have slightly different meanings.

A parameter is a variable that is part of the definition of a function or method. It is a placeholder that represents a value that will be passed to the function or method when it is called. The value of the parameter can be specified when the function or method is called.

An argument is the actual value that is passed to a function or method when it is called. It is the value that is assigned to the parameter when the function or method is executed.


In computer science, a keyword or reserved word is a term that has a predefined meaning in the programming language and cannot be used as a variable name or identifier. These words are reserved by the language’s syntax and cannot be redefined or used in any other way than how they are intended to be used. Here are 10 common examples of keywords in programming languages:

  1. int – A keyword in C++ and Java that represents integer data type
  2. bool – A keyword in C++ and Python that represents boolean data type
  3. if – A conditional statement
  4. else – An alternative conditional statement
  5. while – A loop statement
  6. for – A loop statement with a counter
  7. switch – A switch statement
  8. class – A keyword in object-oriented programming languages that represents a class definition
  9. public – A keyword in object-oriented programming languages that represents an access modifier
  10. return – A return statement in a function.

Different Types of Errors:

As a computer science student you may need to understand these different types of errors:

Compile-time errors: These errors occur when the code you have written does not follow the rules of the programming language you are using. The compiler, which is a program that translates your code into machine-readable format, will identify these errors and prevent the code from being compiled until they are fixed. Examples of compile-time errors include using an undefined variable or function, missing a semicolon at the end of a statement, or using an operator incorrectly.

Syntax errors: These errors are a type of compile-time error and occur when the code you have written does not follow the syntax rules of the programming language you are using. Syntax errors are often caused by typographical errors such as misspelled words, missing parentheses, or mismatched brackets. Examples of syntax errors include writing “print” as “prnit“, or forgetting to close a quote or bracket.

Logic errors: These errors occur when the code you have written runs without any syntax errors, but the output or behavior of the program is not what you intended. Logic errors are often caused by mistakes in the design or implementation of the program. Examples of logic errors include using the wrong mathematical formula, forgetting to consider certain input values, or using the wrong comparison operator.

Run-time errors: These errors occur during the execution of the program and can cause the program to terminate abnormally. Run-time errors are often caused by unexpected events such as a divide-by-zero error or a file that cannot be opened. Examples of run-time errors include trying to access an array element that does not exist, using a null pointer, or attempting to read from or write to a file that does not exist or is in use by another process.

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