Re: The naive test for equality

From: Gene Wirchenko <>
Date: Thu, 11 Aug 2005 12:10:15 -0700
Message-ID: <>

On Thu, 11 Aug 2005 20:38:18 +0200, mAsterdam <> wrote:

>Gene Wirchenko wrote:
>> mAsterdam wrote:
>>>Gene Wirchenko wrote:
>>>>dawn wrote:
>[snip agreement]
>>>>>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.
>>>Could you elaborate some on this factor?
>> One who studies. If I study medieval history, I am a student. I
>> might not be enrolled anywhere. I could even be a leading authority
>> in the field.
>I see what you mean, but I am not sure you got my question right.
>I meant: what is this factor which is causing a lot of trouble?
>In more modern words: what is the anatomy of this anti-pattern?
>We might learn to more easily recognize it.

     I think that the trouble comes from overloading terms. "student" already has a meaning. What distinguishes the special meaning from the more literal meaning? If I do not know that a special meaning is in use in a specific context, I can make a lot of mistakes.

     I coin terms for our in-house client billing system. Two examples are "Work Function Code" and "Work Classification Code". These terms have precise meanings. It is possible for someone to misinterpret these, but I think that they are sufficiently unusual usage that most would ask what they mean instead of assuming as with "student".

     One area of confusion we have is because of overloading. We use "client" to mean someone who buys from us (mainly services, for example order fulfillment) and "customer" to refer to someone who buys from one of our clients. Some of our employees do not make the proper (for us) distinction.



Gene Wirchenko Received on Thu Aug 11 2005 - 21:10:15 CEST

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