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8 Examples of Bootstrapping

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Bootstrapping is a term for moving ahead without external help. It is based on the 19th century metaphor for a impossible task: "to pull yourself up by your bootstraps." Despite being based on an analogy for the impossible, bootstrapping is considered a useful technique in several areas. The following are common examples.

Operating Systems

A small stub that allows an operating system to load up enough functionality to download and install itself.


A programming language compiler that is complied using itself.


A small download that acts as an installer for a large software package.


An initial session that is used to negotiate more secure sessions.


It is common for authentication protocols to rely on an initial authentication that leads to other authentications.

Recursive Self-improvement

A type of artificial intelligence that rewrites its own code. The initial version can be seen as a bootstrap that is far less sophisticated than the eventual result. A potentially dangerous technique.


A business that doesn't require external support or capital such as a developer in a basement who produces something valuable.

Power Stations

Certain types of power station require power from the grid to start. This is known as bootstrapping. If the grid is completely down an alternative procedure known as a black start can typically be attempted.
Overview: Bootstrapping
Definition (1)
Moving ahead without external help.
Definition (2)
A small stub that is used to create something larger.
Definition (3)
An initial session that is used to establish other sessions.
Definition (4)
A design based on itself.
Related Concepts
Next: Keep It Small

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