Handle (computing)

Abstract reference to a system resource in computing / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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In computer programming, a handle is an abstract reference to a resource that is used when application software references blocks of memory or objects that are managed by another system like a database or an operating system.

A resource handle can be an opaque identifier, in which case it is often an integer number (often an array index in an array or "table" that is used to manage that type of resource), or it can be a pointer that allows access to further information. Common resource handles include file descriptors, network sockets, database connections, process identifiers (PIDs), and job IDs. PIDs and job IDs are explicitly visible integers; while file descriptors and sockets (which are often implemented as a form of file descriptor) are represented as integers, they are typically considered opaque. In traditional implementations, file descriptors are indices into a (per-process) file descriptor table, thence a (system-wide) file table.