program status word

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program status word (PSW) A collection of information that encapsulates the basic execution state of a program at any instant. It permits an interrupted process to resume operation after the interrupt has been handled. The information is held in the program status register, and usually contains the value of the program counter and bits indicating the status of various conditions in the ALU such as overflow and carry, along with the information on supervisor privileged status. The contents of other processor registers may also need to be preserved in memory after an interruption of a process and recovered when the interrupted process is resumed so that the complete process state is reestablished. See also processor status word.