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In optics, transparency is the property of being transparent, i.e. allowing light to pass. For example air and some other gases, clear water, various other liquids, glass (usually), and plastic (sometimes, e.g. perspex), are transparent. If the amount of transparency depends on the wavelength of the light then the glass, etc., is tinted. This may for instance be due to certain metallic oxide molecules in glass, or (larger) colored particles, as in (light) colored smoke. If many of these colored particles are present the gas, liquid or solid becomes opaque, e.g. dense smoke.

There are transparent glass walls that can be made opaque by the press of a button, see ICE.

In economics, the term transparency[?] means much is known by many about what is available at what price and where.
Transparency is sometimes used as a synonym for accountability in governance. See, for example, Transparency International.
In telecommunication, the term transparency has the following meanings:

1. The property of an entity that allows another entity to pass thorough it without altering either of the entities.

2. The property that allows a transmission system or channel to accept[?], at its input, unmodified user information, and deliver corresponding user information at its output, unchanged in form or information content.

Note: The user information may be changed internally within the transmission system, but it is restored to its original form prior to the output without the involvement of the user.

3. The quality of a data communications system or device that uses a bit-oriented link protocol[?] that does not depend on the bit sequence structure used by the data source.

4. An image fixed on a clear base by means of a photographic printing, chemical, or other process, especially adaptable for viewing by transmitted light.

Source: from Federal Standard 1037C and from MIL-STD-188 and from the Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms

In computing and networking in particular, transparency refers to a software that supports different logical actions through the same user or application interface. For example, the Network File System allows users to access files stored on a remote machine as if they were stored locally, through the same file/folder hierarchy.

Similarly, some file systems allow transparent compression and decompression of data, enabling users to store more files on a medium without any special knowledge; other file systems encrypt files transparently. In software engineering, it is also considered good practice to develop or use abstraction layers for database access, so that the same application will work with different databases; here, the abstraction layer allows other parts of the program to access the database transparently. In object-oriented programming, transparency is facilitated through the use of interfaces or header files with different implementations.

See also: referential transparency

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