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Acronym ... stands for Explanation
ABI Application Binary Interface See here
API Application Programming Interface The sum total of available functions, classes, etc. of a given program
ARM Advanced RISC Machines Family of RISC architectures, second-most widely used processor family after x86
AVX Advanced Vector eXtensions Various extensions to the x86 instruction set (AVX, AVX2, AVX512), evolution after SSE
BLAS Basic Linear Algebra Subprograms Specification resp. implementation for low-level linear algebra routines
BOLT Binary Optimization and Layout Tool See here
cffi The C FFI for Python See here
CI Continuous Integration Testing all changes made to a given software, resp. the infrastructure that makes this possible
CLI Command Line Interface
CPU Central Processing Unit Main circuitry for executing machine instructions on a computer; contrast GPU
CRAN Comprehensive R Archive Network Main index for R language packages, comparable to PyPI
CUDA Compute Unified Device Architecture Parallel Computing Framework for NVIDIA GPUs
DRY Don't Repeat Yourself Principle in software development aimed at reducing repetition
GCC GNU Compiler Collection Main compiler family (for C / C++ / Fortran etc.) on Linux
GUI Graphical UI
GNU GNU's Not Unix Collection of free software packages under GPL License
GPL (GNU) General Public License Foundational "copyleft" license of the free software movement
glibc GNU C Library Widely used implementation of the C standard library
FFI Foreign Function Interface Calling functions written in a different language than the one currently used
GPU Graphics Processing Unit Specialized circuitry for quickly computing graphics-related tasks
ILP64 - Name used for the standard 64-bit interface to BLAS/LAPACK. Also see "(64 bit) Data Models" below
IR Intermediate Representation Language-agnostic yet still semantic representation of code within a compiler
LAPACK Linear Algebra PACKage Standard software library for numerical linear algebra
ISA Instruction Set Architecture Specification of an instruction set for a CPU; e.g. x86-64, arm64, ...
JIT Just-in-time Compilation Compiling code just before execution; used in CUDA, PyTorch, PyPy, Numba etc.
LLVM - Cross-platform compiler framework, home of Clang, MLIR, BOLT etc.
LTO Link-Time Optimization See here
LTS Long-Term Support Version of a given software/library/distribution designated for long-term support
musl - An alternative implementation of the C standard library
MPI Message Passing Interface Standard for message-passing in parallel computing
MLIR Multi-Level IR Higher-level IR within LLVM; used i.a. in machine learning frameworks
MSVC Microsoft Visual C++ Main compiler on Windows
NEP Numpy Enhancement Proposal See here
OpenMP Open Multi Processing Multi-platform API for enabling multi-processing in C/C++/Fortran
OS Operating System E.g. Linux, MacOS, Windows
PEP Python Enhancement Proposal See here
pip Pip Installs Packages Default installer for Python packages, distributed with CPython itself; see here
PGO Profile-Guided Optimization See here
PSF Python Software Foundation See here
PyPA Python Packaging Authority Group which maintains core set of projects in Python packaging
PyPI Python Package Index Main index where packages get installed from
PyPy - An implementation of the Python specification in (quasi-)Python, with JIT capabilities
QEMU Quick EMUlator Predominant emulation framework on Linux
RHEL Red Hat Enterprise Linux Commercial distribution with some of the longest-running support timelines
RISC Reduced Instruction Set Computer Paradigm underlying many past and current CPU architectures
ROCm Radeon Open Compute Software stack for AMD GPUs; comparable to CUDA
sdist Source DISTribution An archive of the source code of a Python project with metadata
SIMD Single Instruction, Multiple Data CPU-specific instructions that can process more data in a single instruction
SIG Special Interest Group E.g., Distutils-SIG (now replaced by Discourse)
SSE Streaming SIMD Extensions Various extensions to the x86 instruction set (SSE, SSE2, SSE3, SSSE3, SSE4) for SIMD
TOML Tom's Obvious Minimal Language Configuration language chosen for pyproject.toml, cargo etc., see here
UCRT Universal C Runtime Windows equivalent to glibc/musl
UI User Interface
UX User eXperience
VCS Version Control System Tool to keep track of changes in source code, e.g. git
venv Virtual ENVironments Python standard library module for creating environments; distinct from virtualenv


Term Explanation Examples / References
Architecture In the context of packaging software, this generally refers to the CPU architecture (=ISA)
ABI Break Failing to maintain the ABI See here
Binary Compatibility Succeeding to maintain the ABI (e.g. across versions / upgrades) See here
Build Backend Specifically in the context of pyproject.toml builds, the tool responsible for building a Python package setuptools, flit, hatch, ...
Build Frontend Specifically in the context of pyproject.toml builds, the tool used to trigger a build Predominantly pip
Calling Convention Agreed-upon contract with describes how to interact with a given CPU (family) See here
cargo Package manager for the Rust language, often upheld as a positive example for installation UX See here
Conda Cross-platform package & environment manager, based on distribution channels separate from PyPI See here
Conda-forge Community-led packaging effort for (predominantly) Python packages See here
Cross-compilation Compiling on a given platform for another platform See here
(64 bit) Data Models Choice of bit-widths for int/long integer types ILP32, ILP64, LP64; see here
Demuxer / Demuxing Colloquial name for demultiplexing, which can be considered a single-input, multiple-output switch See here
Distribution An entity distributing (consistent) binary artefacts, often forming its own ecosystem Incl. OS: Debian, Fedora, Ubuntu, RHEL...
OS-less: Conda, Spack, Homebrew, ...
distutils Python standard library module for building and installing packages; added in 1.6, to be removed in 3.12 See here
easy_install Deprecated method for installing Python packages, superseded by pip install See here
Egg Historical format for distributing Python packages See here
Emulation Pretending to run on a different CPU architecture; this can be used to avoid cross-compilation See QEMU, resp. here
Linker A tool to correctly find the required third-party symbols for a given project GNU's gold, LLVM's lld, mold
Mamba Alternative implementation of the conda CLI tool with a faster solver See here
Manylinux Baseline tooling to allow distributing wheels across various Linux distributions See PEP 600 and the PEPs it replaces
numpy.distutils Extension to distutils, adding i.a. support for BLAS/LAPACK, Fortran, SIMD etc. See here
Platform Colloquially used as interchangeable with the OS, though really only fully specified by the target triple
pyproject.toml Standard metadata file for Python packages See PEP 517 & 518
setuptools Most widely used tool for building Python packages; new home of distutils See here
Symbol A compiled version of a function See here
Tarball Colloquial name for various flavors of .tar archive files See here
(Target) Triple Unambiguous specification of the platform for the purpose of (cross-)compiling software for it, usually <arch>-<vendor>-<OS> See PEP 11, resp. here or here
virtualenv Installable module for handling virtual environments; largely a superset of venv See here
Wheel A format for distributing and installing binary artefacts for Python packages; essentially a tarball plus metadata See here

Last update: January 7, 2023
Created: December 29, 2022