If all the hardware, including the memory, is working fine, then this is not a hardware problem.
If the program(s) you're trying to run gobble up more memory than you have, then the problem is with the software -- or with the operator (person) who didn't read the system's specs before loading that software!
The "fix," however, is in the hardware -- add more memory!!!
Other teachers may have more opinions.
I am not certain of your scenario. Most operating systems will create virtual memory on media if memory requirements are greater than hardware. My Vista does it quite frequently. I need to buy more memory to speed things up.
The hardware vendor will say it's a software problem.
The software company will call it a hardware problem.
The department manager will have somewhere else to be.
The sysadmin/BOFH will sigh and mutter "PEBKAC" as he walks past.
The experienced project manager already picked up a couple of gigs on the way in to the office.
If you really want to worry about what it's called, most PoliSci courses will have a module on framing. :-)
I shall be brief. The problem today with operating systems taking too much memory comes from someone trying to sell a multimedia software for $400 and calls it an operating system, so that everyone is forced to buy it. An operating system used to come free (or included) with the machine, or users can obtain it for less than 2-3% of the cost of the machine. It occupied 5-10% of the memory of the machine, not 150%.
The IBM 1130 in the late sixties or early seventies had 32Kbyte memory (user and operating system) and was successfully used to solve complex mathematical and scientific problems.
I have no hesitation calling this a software problem.
It will be called a software problem because the software requires more memory than the machine can give, its not a hardware problem because the hardware is functioning fine, the problem is, installing a software that requires more than the system can output or provide......Example..why install Windows XP on a Pentium 1 Machine running at 100MHz when XP requires a Pentium 3 or 4 to operate...
Hardware problems arise when any Hardware Fails to function or respond to certain commands or is not at 100% performance....Like tunning on your machine and nothig is displayed on your screen.....
Software problems arise when the system utility programs show error messages. Like conflicts, unreadable programs, missing Files, Blue screen of Death etc....software programs mostly are caused by a virus or installing programs that dont match system requirements, hence they cause system errors during run time.