Monday, February 16, 2009

Refinement and expansion of terms and concepts

Terms and concepts tend to be used rather loosely when a new field of interest is fairly young or poorly understood. That is to be expected. But as people drill down into more detailed examination of concepts they tend to refine terms. Similarly, as they find commonality and pursue application of concepts they expand the range of terms.

Refinement tends to bring concepts and terms into sharper focus, sharper and narrower than the pioneers required for their primitive needs.

Expansion recognizes that concepts have a greater utility and greater variation than many pioneers may have recognized.

Refinement can also recognize that a concept or term may be relatively generic or general and that there is value in specialization or subsetting of a concept or term. The specialized concepts essentially fan in to the more general concept.

Expansion can also recognize that a concept or term can be supplemented to increase its utility for certain forms of application. The more general concepts essentially fan out to the supplemented concepts and terms.

Refinement implies a many-to-one relationship of the refinements to the general concept. Alternatively, there is a one-to-many relationship between a general concept and its refinements.

Expansion implies a one-to-many relationship from the general concept to the expanded concepts. Alternatively, there is a many-to-one relationship between expanded concepts and their general concept.

-- Jack Krupansky


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