It's How the Data will be Used that Counts

Jim Croft jrc at ANBG.GOV.AU
Wed Dec 5 08:35:14 CET 2001

In respnse to Steve Kevin wrote:
> The terminology is +/- trivial at this stage, but I'll explain that I chose
> something different from character/state simply to break with tradition for
> a while. Traditionally, a character has states and that's it - a 2-level
> tree. In the example above one character (leaf) has as child another
> character (margin). This seems odd to many people thinking traditionally
> about characters/states. Let's agree that we'll use them interchangeably for
> now.

And I think we have all become bilingual in this regard...

But sooner rather than later I would like us to nail this terminology
down, to free up the synonyms forus elsewhere in our model as much as
anything else...

Also, I am not yet convinced that unbounded nesting of characters is
necessary the best way to go in terms of representing a hioerarch of
character data... but maybe it is...

At the end of the day, a state of a particular character  (or a value of
a feature) is used in a key decision or choice and the hierachy is not
all that important other than the order of presentation orlogical
grouping of characters.  In the description the hierarch similar
provides the logical order of the characters and their states/values.

Perhaps we could use features for the hierachy and characters for
the ultimate branch.  For example features could contain features or
characters (but not both) and characters would have states which would
have values (present, absent, doubtful, rarely, in error, or whatever, or
a measurement/count).

Reaching agreement of this level of data description, and the terminology
we are going to use would seem to be essential for clear and unambiguous
communication within the group.

But if we can't agree, I can wait... because we aregoing to have to doit
sooner or later...


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