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A glitch is a short-lived fault in a system. It is often used to describe a transient fault that corrects itself, and is therefore difficult to troubleshoot. The term is particularly common in the computing and electronics industries, and in circuit bending, as well as among players of video games, although it is applied to all types of systems including human organizations and nature.

The term derives from the German glitschig, meaning 'slippery', possibly entering English through the Yiddish term glitsh. [1] [2]


Electronics glitch

An electronics glitch is an undesired transition that occurs before the signal settles to its intended value. In other words, glitch is an electrical pulse of short duration that is usually the result of a fault or design error, particularly in a digital circuit. For example, many electronic components, such as flip-flops, are triggered by a pulse that must not be shorter than a specified minimum duration; otherwise, the component may malfunction. A pulse shorter than the specified minimum is called a glitch. A related concept is the runt pulse, a pulse whose amplitude is smaller than the minimum level specified for correct operation, and a spike, a short pulse similar to a glitch but often caused by ringing or crosstalk. A glitch can occur in the presence of race condition in a poorly designed digital logic circuit.

Computer glitch

A computer glitch is the failure of a system, usually containing a computing device, to complete its functions or to perform them properly. In public declarations, glitch is used to suggest a minor fault which will soon be rectified and is therefore a euphemism by comparison to bug, which is a factual statement that a programming fault is to blame for a system failure.

It frequently refers to an error which is not detected at the time it occurs but shows up later in data errors or incorrect human decisions. While the fault is usually attributed to the computer hardware, this is often not the case since hardware failures rarely go undetected. Situations which are frequently called computer glitches are:

Such glitches could produce problems such as:

Examples of computer glitches causing disruption include an unexpected shutdown of a water filtration plant in New Canaan, 2010;[3] failures in the Computer Aided Dispatch system used by the police in Austin, resulting in unresponded 911 calls;[4] and an unexpected bit flip causing the Cassini spacecraft to enter "safe mode" in November 2010.[5]

Video game glitches

In video games, a glitch is a programming error that prevents programmers from doing actions. It results in behavior not intended by the programmers. (An example of this is getting to fight MissingNo. from Pokémon Red and Blue; not only is the existence of MissingNo. itself a glitch, but encountering MissingNo. causes graphical and inventory glitches. Another well-known glitch, this one in the 2007 first-person shooter game Bioshock, could occur during the looting of Langford's safe. The safe will open, but there will be nothing, causing player's game halt completely to the part.) Glitches may include incorrectly displayed graphics, collision detection errors, game freezes/crashes, sound issues, and other issues. Graphical glitches are especially notorious in platforming games, where misformed textures can directly affect gameplay (for example, by displaying a harmless ground texture where the code calls for an area that should damage the character, or by not displaying a wall texture where there should be one, resulting in an invisible wall).Some glitches are potentially dangerous to the game save data.[6]

"Glitching" is the practice of a player exploiting faults in a video game's programming to achieve tasks normally impossible if the game's script runs as intended, such as running through walls or defying the game's laws of gravity. It is often used to gain an unfair advantage over other players in multiplayer video games. Glitches can be deliberately induced in certain home video game consoles by manipulating the game medium, such as tilting a ROM cartridge to disconnect one or more connections along the edge connector and interrupt part of the flow of data between the cartridge and the console.[7] This can result in graphics, music, or gameplay glitches. Doing this, however, carries the risk of crashing the game or even causing permanent damage to the game medium.[8]

Part of the quality assurance process (as performed by game testers for video games) is locating and reproducing glitches, and then compiling reports on the glitches to be fed back to the programmers so that they can repair the bugs.[6]

TV glitch

In broadcasting, a corrupted signal may glitch in the form of jagged lines on the screen, misplaced squares, static looking effects, freezing problems, or inverted colors. The glitches may effect the video and/or audio or the transmission. These glitches may be caused by a variety of issues, interference from portable electronics or microwaves, damaged cables at the broadcasting center, or weather.[9]

Popular culture


Canadian Oxford lists it as a 20th century word of unknown origin. Some reference books, including Random House's American Slang, claim it comes from the German word glitschen ("to slip") and the Yiddish word gletshn ("to slide or skid"). Either way it is a relatively new term. So new, in fact, that on July 23, 1965, Time Magazine felt it necessary to define it in an article: "Glitches—a spaceman's word for irritating disturbances." In relation to the reference by Time Magazine, the term has been believed to enter common usage during the American Space Race of the 1950s, where it was used to describe minor faults in the rocket hardware that were difficult to pinpoint. [1] [2]

See also


  1. ^ a b "". Retrieved 2012-10-15.
  2. ^ a b "Online Etymology Dictionary". Retrieved 2012-10-15.
  3. ^ "Water filtration plant temporarily shut down due to computer glitch". December 6, 2010. Retrieved 2010-12-11.
  4. ^ "911 computer glitch led to police delay". Austin News 15 November 2010. Retrieved 2010-12-11.
  5. ^ "NASA revives Saturn probe, three weeks after glitch". 2010-11-24. Retrieved 2010-12-11.
  6. ^ a b Ofoe, Emmanuel-Yvan; William Pare (March 06 - March 12.2008). "Testing, testing, testing". Montreal Mirror. Retrieved 2008-06-17.
  7. ^ "It’s Not A Glitch. It’s A Feature. It’s Art. It’s Beautiful.".
  8. ^ "Killing a Sega Genesis Cartridge (YouTube Video of a cartridge becoming permanently broken during the process of cartridge tilting)".
  9. ^ "Signal Strength Variables". Retrieved 2012-05-17.
  10. ^ Bibb, Porter (1976). CB Bible. New York: Doubleday and Company. p. 94.
  11. ^ Doto, Bob (November 7 2008). "NY Horror Film Fest Night 4: The Shorts". Retrieved March 3, 2011.