Here is a quick summary for you!

We have introduced the most basic abstraction of the OS: the process. It is quite simply viewed as a running program. With this conceptual view in mind, we will now move on to the nitty-gritty: the low-level mechanisms needed to implement processes, and the higher-level policies required to schedule them in an intelligent way. By combining mechanisms and policies, we will build up our understanding of how an operating system virtualizes the CPU.


  • The process is the major OS abstraction of a running program. At any point in time, the process can be described by its state: the contents of memory in its address space, the contents of CPU registers (including the program counter and stack pointer, among others), and information about I/O (such as open files which can be read or written).

  • The process API consists of calls that programs can make related to processes. Typically, this includes creation, destruction, and other useful calls.

  • Processes exist in one of many different process states, including running, ready to run, and blocked. Different events (e.g., getting scheduled or descheduled, or waiting for an I/O to complete) transition a process from one of these states to the other.

  • A process list contains information about all processes in the system. Each entry is found in what is sometimes called a process control block (PCB), which is really just a structure that contains information about a specific process.

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