• WordNet 3.6
    • n benchmark a surveyor's mark on a permanent object of predetermined position and elevation used as a reference point
    • n benchmark a standard by which something can be measured or judged "his painting sets the benchmark of quality"
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Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
    • benchmark A horizontal mark at the water's edge with reference to which the height of tides and floods may be measured.
    • benchmark a surveyer's mark on a permanent object of predetermined position and elevation used as a reference point.
    • benchmark a test or series of tests designed to compare the qualities or performance of different devices of the same type. Certain sets of computer programs are much used as benchmarks for comparing the performance of different computers, especially by comparing the time it takes to complete a test.
    • benchmark Any permanent mark to which other levels may be referred.
    • benchmark something serving as a standard by which related items may be judged; as, his painting sets the benchmark of quality.
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Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • n benchmark In surveying, a mark cut in stone or some durable material as a starting-point in a line of levels for the determination of altitudes over any region, or one of a number of similar marks made at suitable distances as the survey advances.
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In literature:

It was, however, the benchmark, the criterion of the prejudice exhibited by the hearing panel throughout.
"Wild Justice" by Ruth M. Sprague
Economic yardsticks and benchmarks get distorted and do not allow for meaningful analysis of the performance of the economy.
"After the Rain" by Sam Vaknin
The Iraqi government has also made progress in meeting benchmarks set by the International Monetary Fund.
"The Iraq Study Group Report" by United States Institute for Peace
They set a standard which has remained the benchmark of Virginia political ethics.
"The Road to Independence: Virginia 1763-1783" by Virginia State Dept. of Education

In news:

Illinois has chosen a Blue Cross Blue Shield small group policy as the benchmark plan for essential health benefits in the state, another milestone in implementing President Barack Obama's health care law.
Note that the benchmarking added a net of 386,000 jobs.
Blue Cross Plan To Be The Benchmark In Kansas.
Blue Cross Plan Picked As Benchmark For Kansas Exchange.
The federal government limited Kansas and other states to setting their benchmarks based upon 10 health plans already widely available to their consumers.
Benchmark for the Future.
New HHS to reach another benchmark .
The results are in from FMA's 2012 Financial Ratios & Operational Benchmarking Survey and the message is clear: Raw material and work-in-process inventory eats cash.
The European Central Bank leaves its benchmark interest rate unchanged at 0.75 percent, holding off on further stimulus for the slowing eurozone economy.
Hurricane Isaac raises benchmark crude oil price.
Benchmark oil's price fell to $95.47.
ACT A Key Benchmark At College.
In a blog post about the new benchmark , Stefano Cazzulani, a Google product manager, said the Web is evolving and so should the JavaScript benchmarks that measure its performance.
Because not all benchmarking programs are cross-platform, we selected only Android phones for this round of performance testing.
The chipset, which is currently available only in a developer tablet, performed quite well in our benchmarks .

In science:

Therefore next to computing efficiency, the benchmarks should include maintainability, adaptability and extendibility of the problem specification.
The last section contains a discussion on benchmark problems and a comparison with other implementations.
QUIP - A Tool for Computing Nonmonotonic Reasoning Tasks
Accepted benchmarks for nonmonotonic theorem provers have been realized by the well-known TheoryBase system (Cholewinski et al. 1995).
QUIP - A Tool for Computing Nonmonotonic Reasoning Tasks
The KR System dlv: Progress Report, Comparisons, and Benchmarks.
QUIP - A Tool for Computing Nonmonotonic Reasoning Tasks
As can be seen, the sampling term is consistent within errors for the e/h method and the benchmark method and is smaller by 1.5 times for the cells weighting method.
Hadron Energy Reconstruction for the ATLAS Barrel Prototype Combined Calorimeter in the Framework of the Non-parametrical Method