What is a Process In Operating System?

What is a Process In Operating System?

Process In Operating System A program in the execution is called a Process. Process is not the same as program. A process is more than a program code. A process is an ‘active’ entity as opposed to program which is considered to be a ‘passive’ entity. Attributes held by process include hardware state, memory, CPU etc.

Process memory is divided into four sections for efficient working :

  • The text section is made up of the compiled program code, read in from non-volatile storage when the program is launched.
  • The data section is made up the global and static variables, allocated and initialized prior to executing the main.
  • The heap is used for the dynamic memory allocation, and is managed via calls to new, delete, malloc , free, etc.
  • The stack is used for local variables. Space on the stack is reserved for local variables when they are declared.


Processes can be any of the following states :

  • New – The process is in the stage of being created.
  • Ready – The process has all the resources available that it needs to run, but the CPU is not currently working on this process’s instructions.
  • Running – The CPU is working on this process’s instructions.
  • Waiting – The process cannot run at the moment, because it is waiting for some resource to become available or for some event to occur.
  • Terminated – The process has completed.
Source Internet


There is a Process Control Block for each process, enclosing all the information about the process. It is a data structure, which contains the following :

  • Process State – It can be running, waiting etc.
  • Process ID and parent process ID.
  • CPU registers and Program Counter. Program Counter holds the address of the next instruction to be executed for that process.
  • CPU Scheduling information – Such as priority information and pointers to scheduling queues.
  • Memory Management information – Eg. page tables or segment tables.
  • Accounting information – user and kernel CPU time consumed, account numbers, limits, etc.
  • I/O Status information – Devices allocated, open file tables, etc.
Source Internet
Scroll to Top