I'm looking for the proper word to describe restrictions that "add" up in computer talk.

Let's say that someone can set the authorization to get into a system as:

  1. password: User must provide correct password
  2. origin: Request must come from a specific domain/host

If the admin was to set both - a password and a restriction on origin - how would you describe that to user? Something like "password and origin restrictions are cumulative"- but thats not quite right. Is there a better term?

This is for some technical docs I am writing to let the developer know that if they set both methods they will be compounded and are not independent of each other. There can certainly be one (or even none) of the methods selected but it's the option of selecting both that leaves my docs a little confusing.

2 Answers 2


What you're looking for is a series of (software) filters.

The closest traditional dictionary definition of filter follows:

1 b: an apparatus containing a filter medium

In software terms, each restriction is a further filter that allows a smaller subset of authentication mechanisms.

From Wikipedia's entry on filter (software):

A filter is a computer program or subroutine to process a stream, producing another stream. While a single filter can be used individually, they are frequently strung together to form a pipeline.

For instance, you could throw a handful of objects at something through a series of filters:

Filter one: Only objects smaller than X are allowed through.
Filter two: Only objects roughly spherical are allowed through.
Filter three: Only red objects are allowed through.

The end result could be either nothing passing through all three filters or a much smaller subset of objects that you started with.

If looked at in reverse, while a filter prevents anything that isn't allowed, those things that are allowed (and which pass through the filters) could be described as meeting certain requirements.

Also, the filters (and the resulting requirements) are additive:

3 : characterized by, being, or producing effects (such as drug responses or gene products) that when the causative factors act together are the sum of their individual effects

So, applying different individual filters will produce a different set of additive requirements to the authentication.

  • Not sure about the filter suggestion - we don't actually really use that term in dev in relation to things like authentication. But the word "additive" is pretty much what I am looking for! Sep 17, 2019 at 17:59
  • @cyberwombat A filter is the more technical name for a restriction, which you had mentioned in the question. I had interpreted your main request as being for that more formal name. But whether it's restrictions or filters (or the converse requirements), it seems it's the additive part that was main question. So, it worked out. ;) Sep 18, 2019 at 17:52

When providing technical information, it's usually best to just spell out exactly what you're looking for.

I think a word combination with mandatory might fit your needs better than cumulative. Mandatory gives the sense of requirement for entry.

In the case of a technical manual for system administrators I'd say:

The system administrator can set multiple mandatory log-in restrictions - password and domain/host.

You can also use the word simultaneous if you want to imply that they both need to present at the same time.

Or even a combination:

The system administrator can set multiple simulataneous restrictions to log-in.

In the case of an error message, I'd say the following:

The system administrator has set multiple mandatory log-in restrictions: both password and domain/host must match.

Cumulative as you stated above is just not the right word. That would imply that the restrictions are piling up on each other. I agree that is taking place here, but it's not the main point of the settings. The point is to have more than one variable that's required, not a pile of variables.

  • I feel that even multiple simultaneous doesn't imply that the user MUST use a password and the correct origin at the same time if the admin has gone ahead and set both password and origin restrictions. I read it as "admin has set multiple methods - use whichever one you want". Perhaps "compounded"? Sep 16, 2019 at 21:42
  • It sounds like you want an error message more than a technical description. I'll edit to see if it helps.
    – David M
    Sep 16, 2019 at 21:45

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