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Real-time is

[t]he absence of significant time delay in the acquisition, transmission and reception of information.[1]


Real-time is usually used to describe situations when two or more people are interacting via their computers instantaneously, versus delayed back-and-forth communication, such as with instant messaging.

As noted by one court:

In addition to transmitting messages that can be later read or accessed, individuals on the Internet can engage in an immediate dialog, in 'real time', with other people on the Internet.[2]


Real-time is time in which reporting on events or recording of events is simultaneous with the events.

Process control[]


[p]ertaining to the performance of a computation during the actual time that the related physical process transpires so that the results of the computation can be used to guide the physical process.[3]


  1. Glossary of Communication Electronic Terms, at 2-129.
  2. American Civil Liberties Union v. Reno, 929 F. Supp. 824, 835 (E.D. Pa. 1996) (full-text), aff'd, Reno v. American Civil Liberties Union, 521 U.S. 844 (1997) (full-text).
  3. NIST Special Publication 800-82, at B-6.