What is Batch Processing? - Definition & Examples

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  • 0:00 The Batch Processing Model
  • 0:31 A Different Kind of…
  • 2:39 Getting the Most out…
  • 4:55 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Chris Mattie
In this lesson, you will learn how information is prioritized, scheduled, and processed on large-scale computers. These large-scale computers are commonly found at banks, research institutions, universities, and utility companies.

The Batch Processing Model

So it's the start of a new month, and you rush to the mail for the latest issue of your favorite magazine. You are excited! Unfortunately your excitement does not last, as you fling open the mailbox door and realize your magazine has not arrived, but your cell phone bill has. You sigh, and as you flip through the bill, your mind starts to wonder how do cell phone companies manage all that data and get bills out to so many customers the same time every month? The answer is batch processing.

A Different Kind of User Experience

Unlike the experience you have with a PC or tablet where you use a mouse or touch screen with a big colorful display to execute commands, batch processing is very different. Under the batch processing model, a group of one or more program, referred to as a job,will perform a specific set of tasks that does not require a user to control it. These programs are often said to be running in the background of the computer since there is no interaction, display, or feedback provided to a user as they execute.

Outputs from these jobs might include inventory and sales reports, complex research calculations, paychecks, or billing statements for utilities like your water bill or cell phone provider. Since there is no user interaction, all the necessary information needed for the job to execute must be specified before the job can start, or be available at the appropriate step in the job's order of operations. When the job is complete, different activities can be triggered, such as messages to the owner of the job, or a printout of the generated statements. Additional jobs can even be started based on the outputs of the prior tasks.

If the right information is not ready when needed or missing completely, the job might take longer than normal to run, or might generate an error and end before processing is complete. When a job fails to complete successfully, a system operator will receive an alert message and have to troubleshoot where things went wrong, or ask a programmer to look at that step in the job by reviewing logs, error codes, or input data files.

In many instances, jobs are set up to run on a pre-set schedule depending on the task being performed. Some jobs, like credit card processing for store owners, might run on a daily basis at the close of business when all the sales for the day are sent to the bank for recording. Other jobs, like utility bills, will run less frequently, on a monthly or even quarterly basis, since it makes more sense for these bills to be processed and sent out less often. After all, you would not want to receive a cell phone bill every week. That would be pretty overwhelming!

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