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The word "symbol"

From: David Cressey <david.cressey_at_earthlink.net>
Date: Thu, 11 Aug 2005 22:55:47 GMT
Message-ID: <THQKe.4379$Je.1557@newsread2.news.atl.earthlink.net>


A few days ago, VC commented on my use of the word "symbol" saying that I was inventing new terminology. I'm trying to restrain the urge to rant, and just give a sober reply.

There is a book on my shelves, thanks to Joe Celko, who mailed it to me for a reason I can't remember. The book is "Data Theory" by Peter C. Jones and Paul E. Jones Jr. [Prentice Hall]. It seems to be some kind of graduate level textbook.

I'm going to quote from Chapter 1, Section 1.1, the Introduction.

Quote,

In Section 1.2, Physical Detection of Symbols, we study the symbols that can be used to express data. Although our primary interest in this book will be the representation of ideas, we begin with symbols because symbols are tangible, and are therefore more accessible to analysis than ideas. We will later be able to apply conclusions about symbols to ideas by analogy. We conclude that the basic mechanism for managing symbols is a "detector", which is a process that defines when two physical things are the same symbol.

End quote.

I regard the above as sufficient demonstration that the concept behind the word "symbol" is foundational for the theory of data and, by extension, to the theory of databases. I not only expect it to be understood in its common usage in the Englisgh language, but also I expect it to be understood in a fairly precise way, as one of the terms that helps define our discipline.

I think anyone who is unfamiliar with the term "symbol" as it relates to the description of data lacks breath in his or her experience. Some of you may think I've given in to ranting, but I think I'm being quite restrained. Received on Thu Aug 11 2005 - 17:55:47 CDT

Original text of this message

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