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A change of terminology: no more relations December 12, 2006

Posted by amahabal in Uncategorized.
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In the post “relations” I described how the relations Seqsee notices have both related objects sharing a category, and also mentioned exceptions in the world around us: George W. Bush and the United States do not share obvious categories, and yet, the question “how is Bush related to the United States?” is not inane and has an answer.

 I want to step back and point out that the relations Seqsee needs most are really descriptions of change—“how can I change a ‘1 2 3’ to a ‘2 3 4’?”—and being able to apply the same change to other objects. Applying the same change to ‘5 6 7’ yields ‘6 7 8’. I want to suggest changing relations to change descriptions.

 Unfortunately, this term sounds mechanical and lifeless. Relations is a warm word, deriving part of its warmth from human relations. Lifeless or not, I think change descriptions is more accurate. Seqsee gets its traction from descriptions, and this is true at several levels. Descriptions drive similarity discovery, for example.

 Am I, with this shift in nomenclature, outlawing relations not based on shared categories? Are there not aspects of the domain that are genuinely such relations? The relation between a ‘1 2 3’ group and the category ascending, for example?

 No, these live on, as they always have, in long-term memory. Long-term memory is a graph (of the nodes and edges variety), and can be a home for arbitrary associations between ideas. All I am suggesting here is renaming a concept to be more accurate.

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