Copy on Write (COW)
Copy-on-write (sometimes referred to as "COW") is an optimization strategy used in computer programming. The fundamental idea is that if multiple callers ask for resources which are initially indistinguishable, you can give them pointers to the same resource. This function can be maintained until a caller tries to modify its "copy" of the resource, at which point a true private copy is created to prevent the changes becoming visible to everyone else. All of this happens transparently to the callers. The primary advantage is that if a caller never makes any modifications, no private copy need ever be created.