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Wildcards

WILDCARDS

Wildcards are symbols that can be used to represent other values or characters during a search for files or other information on a computer system. They also can be used to search for Web sites with search enginesprograms that comb the World Wide Web to look for relevant Web sites, based on keywords or phrases entered by a user.

The ability to use a wildcard depends on a computer's operating systemfor example, Windows, DOS or Unixand the search engine being used. In DOS or Windows, a user could search for all files that begin with the letter L by entering "l*." In this case, the asterisk stands for any letter combination after the letter L. Entering "l*.txt" would initiate a search for all text-only files beginning with the letter L. By including a dollar sign after the keyword horse ("horse$"), a search engine would look for Web sites containing different variations of the keyword, such as horse, horsecar, horseshoe, horseman, and so on. Thus, by using wildcards, users are able to broaden the scope of their searches.

FURTHER READING:

"Some Basic DOS Commands." Berkeley, CA: University of California Berkeley Econometrics Laboratory. February 14, 2001. Available from emlab.berkeley.edu.

"Wildcard Character." Ecommerce Webopedia, February 10, 2001. Available from e-comm.webopedia.com.

SEE ALSO: Stemming

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wildcard

wildcard A character that can stand for a number of different characters. In a search, for instance, if $ is a wildcard meaning any number of characters, then find compute$ will find compute, computer, computers, computed, etc. Again if % is a wildcard meaning any single character in, say, a command to delete some files, then delete fred% will cause fred1, fred2, fred3 to be deleted, but not fred23 (more than one character) nor fred on its own (no character to match). Wildcards are widely used in commands and text searches. See also pattern matching.

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"wildcard." A Dictionary of Computing. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Jul. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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