Naming and binding of objects

  • J. H. Saltzer
Chapter 3.: Issues And Results In The Design Of Operating Systems

DOI: 10.1007/3-540-08755-9_4

Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 60)
Cite this paper as:
Saltzer J.H. (1978) Naming and binding of objects. In: Bayer R., Graham R.M., Seegmüller G. (eds) Operating Systems. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 60. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg



to choose a specific lower-level implementation for a particular higher-level semantic construct. In the case of names, binding is choosing a mapping from a name to a particular object, usually identified by a lower-level name.


an object consisting of a table of bindings between symbolic names and objects. A catalog is an example of a context (q.v.).


abstractly, the mechanism that connects an object that refers to other objects by name with the context in which those names are bound.


an object that is contained by another object.


a particular set of bindings of names to objects: a name is always interpreted relative to some context.

indirect entry

in a naming network, an entry in a catalog that binds a name, instead of to an object, to the path name of some catalog entry elsewhere in the naming network.


a shared catalog (or set of catalogs) that contains objects such as programs and data to which several users refer. A computer system usually has a system library, which contains commonly used programs.

limited context

a context in which only a few names can be expressed, and therefore names must be reused.

modular sharing

sharing of an object without the need to know of the implementation of the shared object. From the point of view of naming, modular sharing is sharing without need to know of the names used by the shared object.


in practice, a character- or bit-string identifier that is used to refer to an object on which computation is performed. Abstractly, an element of a context.

naming hierarchy

a naming network (q.v.) that is constrained to a tree-structured form.

naming network

a catalog system in which a catalog may contain the name of any object, including another catalog. An object is located by a multi-component path name (q.v.) relative to some working catalog (q.v.).


a software (or hardware) structure that is considered to be worthy of a distinct name.

path name

a multiple component name of an object in a naming network. Successive components of the path name are used to select entries in successive catalogs. The entry selected is taken as the catalog for use with the next component of the path name. For a given starting catalog, a given path name selects at most one object from the hierarchy.

reference name

the name used by one object (e.g., a program) to refer to another object.


to locate an object in a particular context, given its name.


the starting catalog of a naming hierarchy.


abstractly, to examine several contexts looking for one that can successfully resolve a name. In practice, the systematic examination of several catalogs of a naming network, looking for an entry that matches a reference name presented by some program. The catalogs examined might typically include a working catalog, a few other explicitly named catalogs, and a system library catalog.

shared object

1) a single object that is a component of more than one other object. 2) an object that may be used by two or more different, parallel activities at the same time.


one of the multiple names for a single object permitted by some catalog implementations.

tree name

a multiple component name of an object in a naming hierarchy. The first component name is used to select an entry from a root catalog, which selected entry is used as the next catalog. Successive components of the tree name are used for selection in successively selected catalogs. A given tree name selects at most one object from the hierarchy.

unique identifier

a name, associated with an object at its creation, that differs from the corresponding name of every other object that has ever been created by this system.

unlimited context

a context in which names never have to be reused.

user-dependent binding

binding of names in a shared object to different components depending on the identity of the user of the shared object.

working catalog

in a naming network, a catalog relative to which a particular path name is expressed.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. H. Saltzer
    • 1
  1. 1.Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeUSA

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