What is transaction processing and why is it important?

Geoff Sharman

Amongst topics studied in Computer Science courses, such as operating systems, programming languages, and database management systems, transaction processing is rarely discussed. Yet commercial transaction processing products are widely used (it's estimated that, on average, at least five transactions are performed each day for every person on Earth) and some of the highest earning software products of all time. What is transaction processing? Why is it so ubiquitous and yet so invisible? How is it evolving and how does it relate to recent developments such as Web Servers, Enterprise Java Beans, and XML?