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WAIS Abbrev. for wide area information service. A service designed to provide ready access to information of interest to users based at widely separated locations, typically in a wide area network. The term is used both to refer to a database server holding indexed information, and also to a software utility that runs on a network-connected workstation and allows a user at the workstation to carry out searches of documents held in remote databases. The documents have full-text indexing, which allows all documents containing either a keyword, or combinations of keywords, held in any of the document-holding servers to be located and retrieved. The system also allows the use of nontext data. See also gopher, World Wide Web.
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