What Is a Slot?

A narrow notch, groove or opening, such as a keyway in machinery or a slit for a coin in a machine. A position in a sequence or plan; a time slot. Also used figuratively.

A device in which a coin is placed to activate a mechanism that pays out winnings, or in which a piece of equipment is inserted to function. Also known as a slot machine or poker machine. Digital technology has allowed for a wide variety of new machines, including those that use multiple reels and allow players to interact with them by advancing bonus rounds.

The slot machine was invented in 1899 by Charles Fey at his San Francisco workshop, which is now a California Historical Landmark. Unlike Sittman and Pitt’s original machine, which required the use of coins to activate it, Fey’s version permitted automatic payouts. The machine had three reels and displayed symbols such as hearts, diamonds, horseshoes, spades, and liberty bells. A win with three aligned liberty bells earned the highest payout, and the machines became very popular in the United States. Their popularity led to the proliferation of gambling laws, and by the early 1930s they were widely banned except in private clubs.

An air traffic management slot is a reservation granted to an airline to fly at a specific point in time, usually when airport capacity is constrained. Whether it’s for runway capacity (as at Heathrow), gate availability, or even parking space, slots are essential to maximizing flight efficiency.

A slot is the amount of capacity in BigQuery reserved for a query to run. Depending on their complexity and size, queries might need more or less than the number of slots they have been allocated. BigQuery dynamically ensures that, given fair scheduling, every query has access to its assigned capacity.

You can create and manage slot reservations in the Service Center. For example, you can create a reservation named prod for production workloads, and another reservation named test, so that test jobs do not compete with resources needed by your production workloads. You can also assign a default reservation to all your jobs, which automatically reserves a number of slots for you. You can also purchase additional slots using capacity-based pricing, which allows you to scale up your query processing as you need to.