White box (software engineering)

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Black box systems
Black box, Oracle machine
Methods and techniques
Black-box testing, Blackboxing
Related techniques
Feed forward, Obfuscation, Pattern recognition, White box, White-box testing, Gray-box testing, System identification
A priori information, Control systems, Open systems, Operations research, Thermodynamic systems

A white box (or glass box, clear box, or open box) is a subsystem whose internals can be viewed but usually not altered.[1] The term is used in systems engineering, software engineering, and in intelligent user interface design,[2][3] where it is closely related to recent interest in explainable artificial intelligence.[4][5]

Having access to the subsystem internals in general makes the subsystem easier to understand, but also easier to hack; for example, if a programmer can examine source code, weaknesses in an algorithm are much easier to discover.[citation needed] That makes white-box testing much more effective than black-box testing but considerably more difficult from the sophistication needed on the part of the tester to understand the subsystem.

The notion of a "Black Box in a Glass Box" was originally used as a metaphor for teaching complex topics to computing novices.[6]

Mathematical models for complex systems

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Patrick J. Driscoll, "Systems Thinking," in Gregory S. Parnell, Patrick J. Driscoll, and Dale L. Henderson (eds.), Decision Making in Systems Engineering and Management, 2nd. ed., Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2011, 40.
  2. ^ Höök, Kristina; Karlgren, Jussi; Waern, Annika; Dahlbäck, Nils; Jansson, Carl Gustaf; Karlgren, Klas; Lemaire, Benoît (1998). "A glass box approach to adaptive hypermedia". Adaptive hypertext and hypermedia: 143-170.
  3. ^ Karlgren, Jussi; Höök, Kristina; Lantz, Ann; Palme, Jacob; Pärgman, Daniel (1994). "The glass box user model for filtering". Fourth international conference on User Modeling.
  4. ^ Raj, Arun (2020). "Explainable AI: From black box to glass box". Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science. 48 (1): 137-141.
  5. ^ Höök, Kristina; Karlgren, Jussi; Waern, Annika (1995). "A glass box intelligent help interface". First Workshop on Intelligent Multimodal Interfaces.
  6. ^ du Boulay, Benedict; O'Shea, Tim; Monk, John (1981). "The black box inside the glass box: presenting computing concepts to novices". International Journal of Man-Machine Studies. 14 (3): 237-249.