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In the Remarks section of a Microsoft dbset.add page I read

Remarks: Note that entities that are already in the context in some other state will have their state set to Added. Add is a no-op if the entity is already in the context in the Added state.

What is no-op used for, and what does it express? Is it "not operational"?
I checked in several dictionaries but was unable to find it.

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So far as I know, no-op is only ever the microprocessor instruction meaning 'do nothing'. Invariably associated with instruction code 0, largely because if a block of memory containing executable code were to fail or not be correctly written in the first place, it would very like end up containing 0's. Doing nothing is the safest option in that case. It's at least quirky, if not downright geeky, for that MS tech writer to use it in the way he has. –  FumbleFingers May 18 '11 at 21:35
    
Strangely, I remember hearing this term with regards to any operation or procedure that ends up requiring no action. I wasn't able to find any corroborating evidence, however. It appears that this is a purely technical term used in computing (specifically assembly). –  MrHen May 18 '11 at 21:41
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@FumbleFingers I agree that it's geeky. Fortunately it's targeted at geeks, the bulk of whom will understand it. –  Matthew Frederick May 18 '11 at 21:43
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@Fumblefingers - kids today with their automatic garbage collected virtual machines have never heard of assembly language....grumble... –  mgb May 18 '11 at 22:08
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en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NOP –  Ed Guiness May 19 '11 at 8:36

2 Answers 2

up vote 12 down vote accepted

"No operation", i.e. do nothing.

It comes from the assembly language instruction "noop" on most processors which does nothing for one clock cycle and is used for example in delays.

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In the early days of microprocessors getting into the home, it wasn't uncommon for games to include no-op simply to slow things down enough for players to keep up. Business-oriented code rarely needed that kind of thing. It wasn't until games programmers hit the problem that we got 'timer interrupts', so games could play at the same speed regardless of the hardware they ran on. –  FumbleFingers May 18 '11 at 21:55
    
Note that on modern processors the NOP instruction takes considerably less than a cycle, and it not useful for delays any more. It does have a use in code that is compiled for debugging, where it serves as a placeholder for code lines that doesn't produce any machine code, so that each line has some code where a breakpoint can be set. –  Guffa May 18 '11 at 21:59
    
@FumbleFingers - remember the Turbo button? My own claim to fame was slowing a lab machine down to a crawl so you could get a perfect score on Doom, entering the head of dept's name as the player and then starting a rumor that he was a hot-shot computer gamer. –  mgb May 18 '11 at 22:11
    
Becket: I remember programming my own 'snake' game on a 16Kb Sinclair Spectrum. First I had to write my own assembler program for the machine. And there wasn't enough memory, so I had to put my program and its variables into 'screen' memory. Little crawling dots all over the top half-inch of display. Ah! - those were the days! –  FumbleFingers May 18 '11 at 22:17
    
@FumbleFingers - I'm currently trying to just draw on the screen in sync with the screen refresh, on a machine about a billion times more powerful, but because of all the layers of abstraction it's now impossible to do what I could do on a Vic20. –  mgb May 18 '11 at 22:20

This seems to be vaguely computer-science related. I think it means that "Add" is a non-operation. In more words, the "Add" operation does nothing to an object in the "Added" state. Does that answer your question?

Edit: Martin's answer is better.

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