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Compatibility is:

  1. the ability of two or more systems or components to seamlessly perform required services.
  2. the capability of a computer, device, or program to function with or substitute for another make and model of computer, device, or program.
  3. the capability of one computer to run the software written to run on another computer.

Compatibility is:

[t]he suitability of products, processes or services for use together under specific conditions to fulfil relevant requirements without causing unacceptable interactions.[1]
[t]he capability of two or more items or components of equipment or material to exist or function in the same system or environment without mutual interference.[2]
(1) [t]he ability of two or more systems or components to perform their required functions while sharing the same hardware or software environment. (2) The ability of two or more systems or components to exchange information.[3]


Standard interfaces, languages, protocols, and data formats are key to achieving compatibility.

"All forms of compatibility, including electromagnetic compatibility and frequency supportability, must be considered at the earliest conceptual stages and throughout the planning, design, development, testing and evaluation, and operational life cycle of all systems."[4]


  1. NATO Standardization Agency, NATO Glossary of Terms and Definitions 2-C-11 (2008) (full-text).
  2. Defense Acquisition University, Glossary, at B-28 (13th ed. Nov. 2009) (full-text).
  3. Information Technology: An Audit Guide For Assessing Acquisition Risks, Glossary, at 89.
  4. Joint Publication 6-0, at I-9.

See also[]