Incremental Computing - Smallest Unit of Change

Smallest Unit of Change

An incremental computing system typically has a predefined smallest unit of change that will be individually tracked. If a change is made that is smaller in scope than this smallest unit, the containing unit will be deemed to have changed. For example, if just one numerical digit of a seven-digit number in a cell in a spreadsheet is altered, the whole cell will be treated as changed.

For a spreadsheet, the smallest unit is a cell, whereas for make, it is typically an individual file. This means that in make, something can be a dependency of an entire file - but not of elements within files, such as individual functions.

Incremental compilers address the problem of having to recompile an entire compilation unit of a program if any of the source files the unit depends on have changed.

Read more about this topic:  Incremental Computing

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