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heartbeat heart·beat (härt'bēt')
A single complete pulsation of the heart.
2. A periodic synchronisation signal used by software or hardware, such as a bus clock or a periodic interrupt.
3. The "natural" oscillation frequency of a computer's clock crystal, before frequency division down to the machine's clock rate.
4. A signal emitted at regular intervals by software to demonstrate that it is still alive. Sometimes hardware is designed to reboot the machine if it stops hearing a heartbeat. See also breath-of-life packet, watchdog.