I teach programming in french where we use the ambiguous names labo for laboratoire == laboratory or tp for travail pratique == practical work. In both way I can use the short notation labo or tp, but I would like to write my pratical works in english and I feel cumbersome to name each one practical-work-00...

I heard of lab which looks nice, but is it correct to use this term?

Is there a consensus or a short notation to refer to practical work assignments in computer science?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Memory is cheap. Don't use abrivs. Reading abrivs is hard and ambiguous, even in your own language. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 20, 2019 at 11:55
  • $\begingroup$ @ctrl-alt-delor, correct, the readability matters and when you ls and see too much information, it is better to use abrivs. $\endgroup$
    – nowox
    Commented Aug 20, 2019 at 11:57
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    $\begingroup$ It depends on how familiar you are with the abbreviation. In England we use lab all the time, so much so that some may not know the long version. So as long as we are not also writing about dogs (Labradors), then all is well. Also use of a directory name in full can help: e.g. Laboratory work/lab1-introduction to… $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 20, 2019 at 12:05
  • $\begingroup$ @ctrl-alt-delor I totally agree with that :) $\endgroup$
    – nowox
    Commented Aug 20, 2019 at 12:06

2 Answers 2


Yes, lab is frequently used as a term to denote a medium size assignment. Exercise would be used for a shorter one, and project for something more extensive.

But the terminology isn't standardized so you can use your own terms, as long as the reader understands them.

But I'll also note, that just as in programming it isn't the typing that makes writing hard, so, IMO, abbreviations have limited utility and are often counterproductive. Written work is normally, and appropriately, a bit more formal than conversational work. This is due to the fact that the audience is wider and you don't know as much about it. So clarity over brevity should probably be valued.


I sympathize; for example, in my class schedule spreadsheets sometimes I've put thought into abbreviations for the column headers so I'm not wasting unnecessary space on the sheet/page.

I do assign projects out of our textbook, and so I try to echo whatever term the book uses; this may vary from course to course for me. Some common terms might be:

  • Exercise (Ex.)
  • Homework (Hwk.)
  • Programming Challenge (PC)

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