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Overhead (engineering)


In engineering, some methods or components make special demands on the system. The extra design features necessary to accommodate these demands are called overhead. For instance, in electrical engineering, a particular integrated circuit might draw large current, requiring a robust power delivery circuit and a heat-dissipation mechanism.

An example from software engineering is the encoding of information and data. The date and time "2011-07-12 07:18:47" can be expressed as Unix time with the 32-bit signed integer 1310447927, consuming only 4 bytes. Represented as ISO 8601 formatted UTF-8 encoded string 2011-07-12 07:18:47 the date would consume 19 bytes, a size overhead of 375% over the binary integer representation. As XML this date can be written as follows with an overhead of 218 characters, while adding the semantic context that it is a CHANGEDATE with index 1.

The 349 bytes resulting from the UTF-8 encoded XML correspond to a size overhead of 8625% over the original integer representation.




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Wikipedia

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