buffer overflow

Computing Dictionary

buffer overflow definition

programming
What happens when you try to store more data in a buffer than it can handle. This may be due to a mismatch in the processing rates of the producing and consuming processes (see overrun and firehose syndrome), or because the buffer is simply too small to hold all the data that must accumulate before a piece of it can be processed. For example, in a text-processing tool that crunches a line at a time, a short line buffer can result in lossage as input from a long line overflows the buffer and overwrites data beyond it. Good defensive programming would check for overflow on each character and stop accepting data when the buffer is full.
See also spam, overrun screw.
[Jargon File]
(1996-05-13)

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010 http://foldoc.org
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