- In common language, a task is part of a set of actions which accomplish a job; the sense is that 'useful work is getting done'.
- In the computer field, a task is "an execution path through address space". In other words, a set of program instructions is loaded in memory. The address registers have been loaded with the initial address of the program. At the next clock cycle, the CPU will start execution, in accord with the program. The sense is that some part of 'a plan is being accomplished'. As long as the program remains in this part of the address space, the task can continue, in principle, indefinitely, unless the program instructions contain a halt, exit, or return.
- In the computer field, 'task' has the sense of a real-time application, as distinguished from process, which takes up space (memory), and execution time. See operating system. A process can be thought of as having life -- Kaare Christian.
- Both 'task' and 'process' should be distinguished from event, which takes place at a specific time and place, and which can be planned for in a computer program. See hotspot.
- In a computer graphic user interface (GUI), an event can be as simple as a mouse click which is displayed on a certain part of the canvas.
- In older text-based computer interfaces, an event might be a keystroke.
For a real-time system, a computer may be too slow, so dedicated hardware solutions for performing a task may be employed, rather than a pure software solution. This hardware might be a digital, or an analog circuit, or a hybrid of many technologies.
For many commercial businesses, a person may be an integral part of the solution. In this case, the entire 'person(s) + (hardware/software) system' serve as the agent of the task which is being performed.