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[ontolog-forum] [CCT-Rep] Code vs Identifier

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Patrick Cassidy <pcassidy@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sat, 13 Mar 2004 05:34:25 -0500
Message-id: <4052E3B1.7000808@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>

    many thanks for providing that memo from Mike Adcock and Sue Probert.
It helps greatly in understanding what the intentions were in distinguishing 
those terms, especially by providing examples of intended use.    (01)

How one classifies these entities ontologically depends in part on whether one 
is taking a *descriptive* or *prescriptive* viewpoint.  If one is developing a 
standard and taking a *prescriptive* approach, one can adopt Humpty Dumpty’s 
dictum: “a word . . . means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor 
less.”  Because people sometimes use words in senses not intended by standards 
committees, it would probably be impossible to formalize such usage, as it will 
vary from time to time.  So I assume we are talking about developing a standard 
and can precisely define terms and then hope that usage conforms to the 
definitions.    (02)

As Robert Miller pointed out, some things that are called “codes” are merely 
numbers.  If these are in fact “codes” then a code cannot invariably be an 
abbreviation (in the usual sense of a short word retaining some of the text of 
the original).  This conforms to the usage that I am familiar with, and Sue’s 
note in which she mentions “reason code” would also suggest the same idea, 
the “reason codes” that I find on my HMO statement are always numbers, 
to a text on the back.  In a particular context such as a code list or a 
field in a document, even a number can be a simple substitute *synonym* for a 
longer string of characters.  I think this is another way -- not necessarily 
clearer -- of saying what Sue said about codes.  Although a code may not 
necessarily be an abbreviation (in the sense of retaining some mnemonic 
characters from the longer text), the notion that the code must be shorter than 
its linguistic text equivalent can be easily represented.  I think this notion 
of ‘code’ can be precisely represented in an ontology, and the distinction 
between code and other identifiers would be clear under that interpretation. 
For that reason, I like the notion of ‘code’ as a short string replacing a 
longer one, defined on a list maintained by some group -- formal or informal. I 
hope that the CCTS and UBL committees also eventually decide to make that the 
formal meaning.    (03)

However, as I mentioned in my discussion with the Ontolog group last week, 
do seem to be invariably examples of an *abstract* “text” – assuming that we 
allow “text” to include things like numbers and certain other printable symbols 
(as well as line breaks and spaces).  This is approximately the same meaning as 
“String” in computer programming.  “Abstract” means that we are not just 
about a physical blot of ink on a piece of paper, but the general notion of, 
the string of numbers “21” (a two followed by a one).  This way we can 
immediately identify the sequence of characters on the form in our hands with 
the same sequence of characters on a duplicate form in the HMO office.  The 
string “cat” is then a single abstract text which may have many different 
representations in different physical objects – books, computer memories, 
display screens -- and it refers to a real-world object that purrs.  This is a 
characteristic of names and code strings, whether alphabetic or numerical.    (04)

If the standards group decides to specify that the term “code” must necessarily 
be a string of characters (numbers, other printable symbols) that serves as a 
synonym for a longer string of characters, and that this string is recognized 
some formal or official way by some group of people,  then it would differ from 
other identifiers in one or the other of those characteristics.  A very rough 
class subsumption diagram for these concepts might be as depicted in the block 
diagram of a graphic in WinWord format that I have include as an attachment.
I have also put it on my web site:
                  ftp://micra.com/ontolog/CodeIDIm.doc    (05)

  In this diagram the arrows point from the more specific to the more general 
concept class. In this fragment of an ontology there are two highest-level 
classes, ”AbstractIdentificationSymbol” and "AbstractString".   Some things 
names and vehicle ID numbers can be instances of both classes.    (06)

      ”AbstractIdentificationSymbol”  has two parallel decompositions, and most 
identifiers are instances of two classes -- one from each of the two groups:    (07)

AbstractIdentificationString               TypeIdentificationSymbol
GraphicIdentificationSymbol                IndividualIndentificationSymbol     (08)

                                            AttributeIdentificationSymbol    (09)

    Some examples of graphic and textual symbols are suggested.    (010)

      This interpretation is not the same as the interpretation that I used for 
the code/identifier relation in the SMINK012 ontology.  But if is there is some 
consensus that a ‘code’ must be a short replacement for another string of 
it will be simple to adjust that structure and formalize those notions.    (011)

     Pat    (012)

========================================================    (013)

Robert.Miller@xxxxxxx wrote:    (014)

> Good People,
> I was kinda happy that this paper disappeared, and unhappy to see it 
> resurface.  While a few codes do appear to be more like 'text' than like 
> 'identifiers, I've yet to be convinced that any of the code lists I find 
> in X12 standards are simply 'text' abbreviations.
> Some 'text' examples from X12 Data Elements:
> 83 Code for Licensing, Certification, Registration, or Accreditation Agency
>     Code identifying a licensing, certification, registration, or 
> accreditation agency.
>    1 Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on 
> Higher Education
>    ...
> This code identifies an organization.
> 375 Tariff Service Code
>        Code specifying the types of services for rating purposes
>    ...
>    HG Household Goods for International Military Air Transport
>    HH House-to-House
>          Rate applies for cargo shipped in containers where the stuffing 
> and shipping thereof is performed by or for the account of the shipper 
> and/or consignee at their respective locations beyond ocean carrier's 
> port terminals
> These codes act as indices into rate tables.  That is, thay identify 
> specific rates.
> 40 Equipment Description Code
>     Code identifying type of equipment used for shipment
>     ...
>     DX Boxcar, Damage Free Equipped
>     ...
>     FX Boxcar Cushion Under Frame OF
> The word 'Description' in the title suggest 'text'.  The definition of 
> the data elemetn says 'identifying', and the codes identify specific 
> types of equipment, having specific attributes.
> Cheers,
>         Bob Miller
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Tim McGrath [mailto:tmcgrath@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx]
> Sent: Friday, March 12, 2004 12:36 AM
> To: [ontolog-forum]
> Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] [CCT-Rep] UBL whitepaper on Code vs
> Identifier
> sorry petetr i think the online reference disappeared when OASIS
> upgraded their software.
> here is the source document...
> Peter Yim wrote:
>  > Tim,
>  >
>  > During our 2004.03.11 CCT-Representation call, when discussing UBL's
>  > delineation between "Code" and "Identifier", you were refering us to
>  > an earlier UBL whitepaper (ref:
>  > 
>  >
>  >
>  > I can see a couple of codelist related papers at the UBL-NDR site, but
>  > I don't think you were referring to them. Can you provide a link to
>  > the paper which you feel is pertinent to our task at hand, please.
>  >
>  > Thanks.  -ppy
>  > --
>  >
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> -- 
> regards
> tim mcgrath
> phone: +618 93352228 
> postal: po box 1289   fremantle    western australia 6160
>     (015)

Patrick Cassidy    (016)

MICRA, Inc.                      || (908) 561-3416
735 Belvidere Ave.               || (908) 668-5252 (if no answer above)
Plainfield, NJ 07062-2054    (017)

internet:   cassidy@xxxxxxxxx
=============================================    (018)

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Description: MS-Word document

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