Interactive Data Language

What Does Interactive Data Language Mean?

Interactive data language (IDL) is a programming language used to build applications performing data analysis. IDL is mostly utilized by astronomers and medical imaging experts.


The typical IDL application is in the bulk interactive processing field, where digital image processing requires high speed in many applications, such as those in security and the monitoring of applications requiring real time analysis.

Techopedia Explains Interactive Data Language

IDL effectively processes data arrays of different dimensions, including vectors (single dimension arrays). IDL saves multiple programming codes required to perform repeated functions, thereby using single lines of code for such functions.

IDL is extremely useful when arithmetic overflow issues occur and store a NaN (Not a Number) value, rather than returning an exception, which could force a closed program if written in any other language.

IDL is not efficient during sequential element operations. Thus, if a program does not contain a sufficient number of arrays, IDL is not advised. (Using a language like C# is much more efficient.)


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Margaret Rouse 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 explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…