In computer programming, the word render means to turn typed written code into a pretty picture for people to look at.

Outside of computer science, the word render means somthing like "boil ingredients in a metal pot until some final result is produced".

What formal definition for render would you put in a textbook on computer science?

Difficult to Understand Input

R = \begin{bmatrix}

\mathbf{881}   &  \mathbf{836}   &  \mathbf{775}   &  \mathbf{829}   &  \mathbf{782}   &  \mathbf{927}   &  \mathbf{539}   &  \mathbf{122}   &  \mathbf{855}   &  \mathbf{273}   &  \\

\mathbf{862}   &  \mathbf{599}   &  \mathbf{192}   &  \mathbf{291}   &  \mathbf{311}   &  \mathbf{737}   &  \mathbf{231}   &  \mathbf{218}   &  \mathbf{349}   &  \mathbf{874}   &  \\

\mathbf{398}   &  \mathbf{149}   &  \mathbf{465}   &  \mathbf{869}   &  \mathbf{529}   &  \mathbf{836}   &  \mathbf{728}   &  \mathbf{914}   &  \mathbf{689}   &  \mathbf{253}   &  \\

\mathbf{671}   &  \mathbf{636}   &  \mathbf{963}   &  \mathbf{852}   &  \mathbf{942}   &  \mathbf{964}   &  \mathbf{183}   &  \mathbf{643}   &  \mathbf{427}   &  \mathbf{726}   &  \\

\mathbf{522}   &  \mathbf{143}   &  \mathbf{568}   &  \mathbf{722}   &  \mathbf{191}   &  \mathbf{834}   &  \mathbf{428}   &  \mathbf{326}   &  \mathbf{318}   &  \mathbf{936}   &  \\

\mathbf{918}   &  \mathbf{825}   &  \mathbf{697}   &  \mathbf{615}   &  \mathbf{439}   &  \mathbf{998}   &  \mathbf{785}   &  \mathbf{367}   &  \mathbf{132}   &  \mathbf{637}   &  \\

\mathbf{479}   &  \mathbf{394}   &  \mathbf{555}   &  \mathbf{841}   &  \mathbf{745}   &  \mathbf{436}   &  \mathbf{272}   &  \mathbf{617}   &  \mathbf{665}   &  \mathbf{828}   &  \\

\mathbf{349}   &  \mathbf{614}   &  \mathbf{836}   &  \mathbf{579}   &  \mathbf{775}   &  \mathbf{365}   &  \mathbf{511}   &  \mathbf{218}   &  \mathbf{462}   &  \mathbf{585}   &  \\

\mathbf{485}   &  \mathbf{475}   &  \mathbf{156}   &  \mathbf{473}   &  \mathbf{527}   &  \mathbf{585}   &  \mathbf{894}   &  \mathbf{931}   &  \mathbf{614}   &  \mathbf{234}   &  \\

\mathbf{331}   &  \mathbf{437}   &  \mathbf{556}   &  \mathbf{395}   &  \mathbf{324}   &  \mathbf{673}   &  \mathbf{395}   &  \mathbf{145}   &  \mathbf{411}   &  \mathbf{654}   &  \\


Easier to Understand Output

a screen capture of a ten by ten matrix full of numbers

Neither the input, nor the output, in my example is easy to read.

However, the output is easier for the human eye (and/or visual cortex) to perceive.

The word "render" is used in the videogame industry to mean

make the trees, airplanes, people, swords, dragons, etc... LOOK like trees, airplanes, people, swords, & dragons.

I am still not sure that is an acceptable definition to use with students.

  • $\begingroup$ I've never heard your second "boil ingredients" meaning merriam-webster.com/dictionary/render $\endgroup$
    – Rushi
    Commented Jun 7, 2023 at 1:24
  • $\begingroup$ Why would the biological definition of a mouse be relevant in a discussion about computer hardware? Answer that question, then transplant it onto yours. I'm not sure what the core question here is other than "what does rendering mean in CS terms?", which you already answer in the first parahraph. $\endgroup$
    – Flater
    Commented Jun 7, 2023 at 5:42
  • $\begingroup$ In visual arts, "rendering" refers to the use of varying densities of paint/pencil/etc. to duplicate the appearance of light and shadow, creating the illusion of depth in a 2D work of art. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-photorealistic_rendering#Artistic $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 14, 2023 at 23:05
  • $\begingroup$ The question is misleading: even in computing, ‘render’ has much wider meanings than the computer-graphics one.  For example, man pages are traditionally written in troff markup format, and rendered into plain (or styled, depending on the terminal type) text when needed.  Or you could render a MIDI file (which has notes and other musical instructions) into an audio file. $\endgroup$
    – gidds
    Commented Oct 21, 2023 at 15:27

1 Answer 1


To render is to undergo some transformative process that yields something. To render a graphic is to transform it to something viewable. To render fat is transform it to a purified form (such as shmaltz or tallow).

To render a table is exactly the same usage as rendering a graphic, as in your written example. Note that in that example, I believe that they are saying they they make the files holding the graphic information look like (be visible as) the things they represent.

As an aside, I semi-regularly point to etymologies of key words that students need to understand. Those etymologies are usually quite clarifying. "Static" always seems like a weird word to represent the concept it represents in OOP until you see its etymology, and suddenly its linkage with unmoving things becomes much clearer.


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