1. An item of data consisting of a number of characters, bytes, words, or
codes that are treated together, e.g. to form a number, a name, or an address. A
number of fields make a record and the fields may be fixed in length or
variable. The term came into use with punched card systems and a field size was
defined in terms of a number of columns.
2. Normally a way of designating a portion of a word that has a specific
significance or function within that word, e.g. an address field in an
instruction word or a character field within a data word.
3. In mathematics, a commutative ring containing more than one element and in
which every nonzero element has an inverse with respect to the multiplication
Apart from their obvious relationship to arithmetic involving numbers of various
kinds, fields play a very important role in discussion about the analysis of
algorithms. Results in this area mention the number of operations of a
particular kind, and these operations are usually related to addition and
multiplication of elements of some field.