Real-Time Data Processing

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What Does Real-Time Data Processing Mean?

Real-time data processing is the execution of data in a short
time period, providing near-instantaneous output. The processing is done as the
data is inputted, so it needs a continuous stream of input data in order to
provide a continuous output. Good examples of real-time data processing systems
are bank ATMs, traffic control systems and modern computer systems such as the
PC and mobile devices. In contrast, a batch data processing system collects
data and then processes all the data in bulk in a later time, which also means
output is received at a later time.


Real-time data processing is also known as stream processing.

Techopedia Explains Real-Time Data Processing

A real-time data processing system is able to take input of rapidly changing data and then provide output near instantaneously so that change over time is readily seen in such a system. For example, a radar system depends on a continuous flow of input data which is processed by a computer to reveal the location of various aircraft flying within the range of the radar and then display it on a screen so that anyone looking at the screen can know the actual location of an aircraft at that moment.

Real-time data processing is also called stream processing because of the continuous stream of input data required to yield output for that moment. Good examples are e-commerce order processing, online booking and reservations, and credit card real-time fraud detection. The biggest benefit of real-time data processing is instantaneous results from input data that ensures everything is up to date. Batch processing, on the other hand, means that data is no longer timely.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert
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.