Re: The naive test for equality

From: Gene Wirchenko <>
Date: Thu, 11 Aug 2005 09:58:09 -0700
Message-ID: <>

On 11 Aug 2005 07:51:07 -0700, "dawn" <> wrote:

>VC wrote:
>> "dawn" <> wrote in message


>> > It is usually much more subtle than that. Everyone agrees that we need
>> > to know whether or not someone is a fullTimeStudent. Ignore the fact
>> > that this would likely be a derived attribute -- it illustrates the
>> > problem. After some sessions with folks from many departments, the
>> > analyst works to get more precision and sits down with someone who
>> > knows all of the tuition rules, along with another person ('cause the
>> > analyst is no rookie) and they nail down this attribute with the
>> > precision of a surgeon.
>> >
>> > The system goes live and the financial aid people are irate! Federal
>> > aid has just been removed from students because they were no longer
>> > flagged as being a fullTimeStudent when by the standards for this
>> > financial aid, they clearly ARE a fullTimeStudent.
>> >
>> > Then you find out that these two departments use the very same term and
>> > might even both have external reasons to use the very same term, and
>> > they use it with just slightly different meanings.

>> Apparently, the analysts made a mistake in assuming that the set of
>> fullTimeStudents is equal to the set of studentsEligibleForFinancialAid.
>In this case, yes, but it also happens frequently where such a term is
>used the same when the analysis is done, but something changes
>(government regulation or something more subtle) that changes the
>meaning slightly for one group and not another, so that these
>differences creep in.

     In British Columbia (and presumably Canada since I have seen federal use of this meaning), you can be a full-time student by taking three three-credit courses in a semester. The usual full course load is five. This is not the commonsense definition, but it is the definition used.


>There are always differences of opinion about what constitutes a
>student on a campus. Finance people often use the term as if the
>student were the same as a corporate customer. Student = Customer. If
>someone has received some approval to audit a course for zero dollars,
>the instructor might consider them a student. That is just an example,
>but the point is that entity names are also just words and are
>interpreted by humans, each of whom brings a different context to the
>meaning of the word.

     Such a student is a student by the normal use of the term. I think this factor is what causes a lot of the trouble.

     At my alma mater, there are three major classifications: student, faculty, and staff. They are not mutually exclusive. I have known of faculty who were students and staff who were faculty. There is nothing stopping a staff member from taking a course (making him also a student) or for someone to be in all three categories at the same time.

     I am a resident of the U.S.A. I am not a U.S. citizen. If someone conflates the two, there could be a problem.

>I've been reading and writing too fast lately and might have missed the
>point, so I'll re-read the thread before posting again.
>cheers! --dawn

     I think you are doing fine.


Gene Wirchenko Received on Thu Aug 11 2005 - 18:58:09 CEST

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