What Does Idempotence Mean?

The term “idempotent” in IT refers to an operation that does not affect the application that it is called in, if it is called more than once with the same input parameters. Other kinds of operations change the application’s data structure with each iteration.


Techopedia Explains Idempotence

Idempotence can be used to look at fundamental aspects of how commands and functions work within a given programming environment.

One of the best and easiest examples to explain idempotence is in the use of various commands in a given server or architecture communication system. For example, HTTP protocol uses numerous commands, among them “Get” and “Post.” Experts point out that, for example, repeating a “Get” command would not alter the surrounding program, but repeating a “Post” command would alter the program with each iteration.


Related Terms

Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.