dcsimg
Main » TERM » V »

Virtual Definition & Meaning

The term virtual is used among computer scientists to distinguish something that is merely conceptual from something that has an absolute, physical reality. A few examples:

  • Virtual memory refers to an imaginary set of locations or addresses, which are converted into real memory addresses when the program or application is executed. It is not the same as the real physical memory composed of transistors, so it is considered virtual.

  • Virtual reality describes an artificial environment that is presented to a user through specialized equipment. Because the technology creates an immersive audio and visual experience, the encounter is realistic, but the user’s physical reality does not change.

  • Virtualization is a software version of a physical device - one physical server, for example, can hold a number of virtual servers. Virtualization can also mean bringing multiple pieces of hardware together to act as one, as in storage virtualization, and even across geographical distances, as in virtual data centers.

  • In a more analog example, the metaphysical mind can be considered a virtual brain in that it exists conceptually, but the physical matter is the human brain itself.

Does virtual mean online?

Not necessarily. While virtual is widely used to characterize online activities (e.g. virtual learning, virtual events, virtual meetings), virtual refers to the specific environment in which those activities take place rather than the activities themselves.

In the case of virtual learning, a student’s ability to access lessons and assignments online means the virtual classroom by which he or she accesses those lessons does not physically exist, but it does not mean the student’s learning is not real. Likewise, if an event like a trade show takes place in a virtual venue (one that is created and accessed online), the event is still very real—some virtual events have attributes one might expect to find at an in-person event, including swag bags, hour-by-hour agendas, and exclusive opportunities for 1:1 interaction with fellow attendees. 










LATEST ARTICLES
Texting & Chat Abbreviations

From A3 to ZZZ we list 1,559 text message and online chat abbreviations to help you translate and understand today's texting lingo. Includes Top... Read More »

Huge List of Computer Certifications

Have you heard about a computer certification program but can't figure out if it's right for you? Use this handy list to help you decide. Read More »

STUDY GUIDES
Computer Architecture Study Guide

Computer architecture provides an introduction to system design basics for most computer science students. Read More »

Network Fundamentals Study Guide

Networking fundamentals teaches the building blocks of modern network design. Learn different types of networks, concepts, architecture and... Read More »

The Five Generations of Computers

Learn about each of the five generations of computers and major technology developments that have led to the computing devices that we use... Read More »