= Q =

quad n.

  1. Two bits; syn. for quarter, crumb, tayste.
  2. A four-pack of anything (compare hex, sense 2).
  3. The rectangle or box glyph used in the APL language for various arcane purposes mostly related to I/O. Former Ivy-Leaguers and Oxford types are said to associate it with nostalgic memories of dear old University.

quadruple bucky n., obs.

  1. On an MIT space-cadet keyboard, use of all four of the shifting keys (control, meta, hyper, and super) while typing a character key.
  2. On a Stanford or MIT keyboard in raw mode, use of four shift keys while typing a fifth character, where the four shift keys are the control and meta keys on *both* sides of the keyboard. This was very difficult to do! One accepted technique was to press the left-control and left-meta keys with your left hand, the right-control and right-meta keys with your right hand, and the fifth key with your nose.

Quadruple-bucky combinations were very seldom used in practice, because when one invented a new command one usually assigned it to some character that was easier to type. If you want to imply that a program has ridiculously many commands or features, you can say something like: "Oh, the command that makes it spin the tapes while whistling Beethoven's Fifth Symphony is quadruple-bucky-cokebottle." See double bucky, bucky bits, cokebottle.

quantifiers In techspeak and jargon, the standard metric prefixes used in the SI (Syst`eme International) conventions for scientific measurement have dual uses. With units of time or things that come in powers of 10, such as money, they retain their usual meanings of multiplication by powers of 1000 = 10^3. But when used with bytes or other things that naturally come in powers of 2, they usually denote multiplication by powers of 1024 = 2^(10).

Here are the SI magnifying prefixes, along with the corresponding binary interpretations in common use:

     prefix  decimal  binary
     kilo-   1000^1   1024^1 = 2^10 = 1,024 
     mega-   1000^2   1024^2 = 2^20 = 1,048,576 
     giga-   1000^3   1024^3 = 2^30 = 1,073,741,824 
     tera-   1000^4   1024^4 = 2^40 = 1,099,511,627,776 
     peta-   1000^5   1024^5 = 2^50 = 1,125,899,906,842,624 
     exa-    1000^6   1024^6 = 2^60 = 1,152,921,504,606,846,976 
     zetta-  1000^7   1024^7 = 2^70 = 1,180,591,620,717,411,303,424 
     yotta-  1000^8   1024^8 = 2^80 = 1,208,925,819,614,629,174,706,176 
Here are the SI fractional prefixes:
     *prefix  decimal     jargon usage*
     milli-  1000^-1     (seldom used in jargon)
     micro-  1000^-2     small or human-scale (see micro-)
     nano-   1000^-3     even smaller (see nano-)
     pico-   1000^-4     even smaller yet (see pico-)
     femto-  1000^-5     (not used in jargon---yet)
     atto-   1000^-6     (not used in jargon---yet)
     zepto-  1000^-7     (not used in jargon---yet)
     yocto-  1000^-8     (not used in jargon---yet)
The prefixes zetta-, yotta-, zepto-, and yocto- have been included in these tables purely for completeness and giggle value; they were adopted in 1990 by the `19th Conference Generale des Poids et Mesures'. The binary peta- and exa- loadings, though well established, are not in jargon use either --- yet. The prefix milli-, denoting multiplication by 1000^(-1), has always been rare in jargon (there is, however, a standard joke about the `millihelen' --- notionally, the amount of beauty required to launch one ship). See the entries on micro-, pico-, and nano- for more information on connotative jargon use of these terms. `Femto' and `atto' (which, interestingly, derive not from Greek but from Danish) have not yet acquired jargon loadings, though it is easy to predict what those will be once computing technology enters the required realms of magnitude (however, see attoparsec).

There are, of course, some standard unit prefixes for powers of 10. In the following table, the `prefix' column is the international standard suffix for the appropriate power of ten; the `binary' column lists jargon abbreviations and words for the corresponding power of 2. The B-suffixed forms are commonly used for byte quantities; the words `meg' and `gig' are nouns that may (but do not always) pluralize with `s'.

     prefix   decimal   binary       pronunciation
     kilo-       k      K, KB,       /kay/
     mega-       M      M, MB, meg   /meg/
     giga-       G      G, GB, gig   /gig/,/jig/
Confusingly, hackers often use K or M as though they were suffix or numeric multipliers rather than a prefix; thus "2K dollars", "2M of disk space". This is also true (though less commonly) of G.

Note that the formal SI metric prefix for 1000 is `k'; some use this strictly, reserving `K' for multiplication by 1024 (KB is thus `kilobytes').

K, M, and G used alone refer to quantities of bytes; thus, 64G is 64 gigabytes and `a K' is a kilobyte (compare mainstream use of `a G' as short for `a grand', that is, $1000). Whether one pronounces `gig' with hard or soft `g' depends on what one thinks the proper pronunciation of `giga-' is.

Confusing 1000 and 1024 (or other powers of 2 and 10 close in magnitude) --- for example, describing a memory in units of 500K or 524K instead of 512K --- is a sure sign of the marketroid. One example of this: it is common to refer to the capacity of 3.5" microfloppies as `1.44 MB' In fact, this is a completely bogus number. The correct size is 1440 KB, that is, 1440 * 1024 = 1474560 bytes. So the `mega' in `1.44 MB' is compounded of two `kilos', one of which is 1024 and the other of which is 1000. The correct number of megabytes would of course be 1440 / 1024 = 1.40625. Alas, this fine point is probably lost on the world forever. [1993 update: hacker Morgan Burke has proposed, to general approval on USENET, the following additional prefixes:

groucho
     10^-30
harpo
     10^-27
harpi
     10^27
grouchi
     10^30
We observe that this would leave the prefixes zeppo-, gummo-, and chico- available for future expansion. Sadly, there is little immediate prospect that Mr. Burke's eminently sensible proposal will be ratified.]

quantum bogodynamics /kwon'tm boh`goh-di:-nam'iks/ n. A theory that characterizes the universe in terms of bogon sources (such as politicians, used-car salesmen, TV evangelists, and suits in general), bogon sinks (such as taxpayers and computers), and bogosity potential fields. Bogon absorption, of course, causes human beings to behave mindlessly and machines to fail (and may also cause both to emit secondary bogons); however, the precise mechanics of the bogon-computron interaction are not yet understood and remain to be elucidated. Quantum bogodynamics is most often invoked to explain the sharp increase in hardware and software failures in the presence of suits; the latter emit bogons, which the former absorb. See bogon, computron, suit, psyton.

quarter n. Two bits. This in turn comes from the `pieces of eight' famed in pirate movies --- Spanish silver crowns that could be broken into eight pie-slice-shaped `bits' to make change. Early in American history the Spanish coin was considered equal to a dollar, so each of these `bits' was considered worth 12.5 cents. Syn. tayste, crumb, quad. Usage: rare. See also nickle, nybble, byte, dynner.

ques /kwes/

  1. n. The question mark character (`?', ASCII 0111111).
  2. interj. What? Also frequently verb-doubled as "Ques ques?" See wall.

quick-and-dirty adj. Describes a crock put together under time or user pressure. Used esp. when you want to convey that you think the fast way might lead to trouble further down the road. "I can have a quick-and-dirty fix in place tonight, but I'll have to rewrite the whole module to solve the underlying design problem." See also kluge.

quine /kwi:n/ [from the name of the logician Willard V. Quine, via Douglas Hofstadter] n. A program that generates a copy of its own source text as its complete output. Devising the shortest possible quine in some given programming language is a common hackish amusement. Here is one classic quine:

     ((lambda (x)
       (list x (list (quote quote) x)))
      (quote
         (lambda (x)
           (list x (list (quote quote) x)))))
This one works in LISP or Scheme. It's relatively easy to write quines in other languages such as Postscript which readily handle programs as data; much harder (and thus more challenging!) in languages like C which do not. Here is a classic C quine for ASCII machines:

This piece of code deleted. If anyone have it, Obfuscated C Contest entries have been quines that reproduced in exotic ways.

quote chapter and verse [by analogy with the mainstream phrase] v. To cite a relevant excerpt from an appropriate bible. "I don't care if `rn' gets it wrong; `Followup-To: poster' is explicitly permitted by RFC-1036. I'll quote chapter and verse if you don't believe me." See also legalese, language lawyer, RTFS (sense 2).

quotient n. See Coefficient Of X.

quux /kwuhks/ [Mythically, from the Latin semi-deponent verb quuxo, quuxare, quuxandum iri; noun form variously `quux' (plural `quuces', anglicized to `quuxes') and `quuxu' (genitive plural is `quuxuum', for four u-letters out of seven in all, using up all the `u' letters in Scrabble).]

  1. Originally, a metasyntactic variable like foo and foobar. Invented by Guy Steele for precisely this purpose when he was young and naive and not yet interacting with the real computing community. Many people invent such words; this one seems simply to have been lucky enough to have spread a little. In an eloquent display of poetic justice, it has returned to the originator in the form of a nickname.
  2. interj. See foo; however, denotes very little disgust, and is uttered mostly for the sake of the sound of it.
  3. Guy Steele in his persona as `The Great Quux', which is somewhat infamous for light verse and for the `Crunchly' cartoons.
  4. In some circles, used as a punning opposite of `crux'. "Ah, that's the quux of the matter!" implies that the point is *not* crucial (compare tip of the ice-cube).
  5. quuxy: adj. Of or pertaining to a quux.

qux /kwuhks/ The fourth of the standard metasyntactic variable, after baz and before the quu(u...)x series. See foo, bar, baz, quux. This appears to be a recent mutation from quux, and many versions (especially older versions) of the standard series just run foo, bar, baz, quux, ....

QWERTY /kwer'tee/ [from the keycaps at the upper left] adj. Pertaining to a standard English-language typewriter keyboard (sometimes called the Sholes keyboard after its inventor), as opposed to Dvorak or foreign-language layouts or a space-cadet keyboard or APL keyboard.

Historical note: The QWERTY layout is a fine example of a fossil. It is sometimes said that it was designed to slow down the typist, but this is wrong; it was designed to allow *faster* typing --- under a constraint now long obsolete. In early typewriters, fast typing using nearby type-bars jammed the mechanism. So Sholes fiddled the layout to separate the letters of many common digraphs (he did a far from perfect job, though; `th', `tr', `ed', and `er', for example, each use two nearby keys). Also, putting the letters of `typewriter' on one line allowed it to be typed with particular speed and accuracy for demos. The jamming problem was essentially solved soon afterward by a suitable use of springs, but the keyboard layout lives on.