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The input-process-output (IPO) model, also known as the IPO+S model, is a functional model and conceptual schema of a general system. An IPO chart/table identifies a program’s inputs, its outputs, and the processing steps required to transform the inputs into the outputs.
The IPO model has many interdisciplinary applications, and is used to convey systems fundamentals in IT overview education and as a brainstorming, preliminary investigation tool in systems development processes such as the SDLC. It consists of at least three, and sometimes four, distinct components. In contemporary information technology, it is almost always discussed as a four component model in which the fourth is a named optional. Data has to flow into the system in some form. Input is the data flowing into the system from outside. The next stage in the information flow is the input data being manipulated in some way. Processing is the action of manipulating the input into a more useful form. The final stage in the information flow is normally to present the information in a user-friendly way. Output is the information flowing out of the system.
The components of the IPO model are defined as:
- I: Input - The information, ideas, and resources used in creating a program
- P: Processing - Actions taken upon/using input or stored material
- O: Output - Results of the processing that then exit the system
- S: Storage - Location(s) where material inside the system is/are placed for possible use at a later point in time
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