A process is referring to a program that is running on your computer. It can be anything from a small background task, such like a spell-checker or system events handler to a full-blown application as Microsoft Word or Internet Explorer. All of the processes are composed of one or more threads.

Since most of the operating systems have many background tasks running, your computer is probable to have many more processes running than actual programs. For instance, you may only have three programs running, but there can be twenty active processes. You can analysis active processes in Windows by opening the Task Manager (press Ctrl-Alt-Delete and click Task Manager). On a Mac, you can notice active processes by opening Activity Monitor (in the Applications → Utilities folder).

The term "process" can also be referred as a verb that means to carry out a series of operations on a set of data. For instance, your computer's CPU processes information sent to it by many programs.

A computer program is a passive collection of instructions; a process is the actual execution of those instructions. Many processes may be linked with the same program; for instance, opening up many instances of the same program frequently means more than one process is being executed.

Multitasking is a method to let multiple processes to share processors (CPUs) and other system resources. Each of the CPU executes a single task at a time. Though, multitasking lat each processor to switch between tasks that are being executed without having to wait for each task to finish. Based on the operating system implementation, switches could be performed while tasks execute input/output operations, when a task denotes that it can be switched, or on hardware interrupts.

A common form of multitasking is time-sharing. It is technique to allow fast response for interactive user applications. In this systems, context switches are quickly performed. It makes it seem like multiple processes are being executed simultaneously on the similar processor. The execution of multiple processes seemingly simultaneously is called concurrency.

For security and reliability cause most modern operating systems prevent direct communication among independent processes, strictly providing mediated and controlled inter-process communication functionality.

Process States:

During the lifespan of a process, its execution position might be in one of four states: (associates with each state is generally a queue on which the process resides)

1. Executing:

At present the process is running and have control of a CPU

2. Waiting:

At present the process is able to run, but must wait till a CPU becomes available

3. Blocked:

At present the process is waiting on I/O, either for output to be sent or input to arrive

4. Suspended:

At present the process is able to run, however for some cause the OS has not placed the process on the prepared queue

5. Ready:

The process is in memory, will execute specified CPU time.

Process Control Block (PCB):

If the OS let multiprogramming, then it needs keeping track of all of the processes. For all of the process, its process control block PCB is utilized to track all the process’s execution status, together with the following:

  • Its existing processor registers contents
  • Its processor state (blocked or set)
  • Which resources have been allocated to it
  • Its memory state
  • A pointer to its stack
  • Which of the  resources it required

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