a black box


Also found in: Wikipedia.

black box

1. The device in an airplane that records flight audio and data. Once the black box is recovered from the wreckage, it will give us more insight into what caused the crash.
2. Any sort of system or device with inner workings that are difficult to understand. Does anyone outside of the IT department really understand how this black box works?
See also: black, box

a black box

You can call a process or system a black box when you know that it produces a particular result but you do not understand how it works. What steroids do is currently something of a black box. The firm's investment success lies in its black box of formulas which identify trends. Note: In an electronic or computer system, a black box is a self-contained part. You can understand its function without knowing anything about how it works.
See also: black, box