14.0258 methodological primitives?

From: by way of Willard McCarty (willard@lists.village.Virginia.EDU)
Date: 09/21/00

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                   Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 14, No. 258.
           Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
             Date: Thu, 21 Sep 2000 09:19:54 +0100
             From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk>
             Subject: methodological primitives?
    Suppose that we look at any traditional academic field solely from the
    perspective of humanities computing. What we'd see, I'd guess, is data on
    the one hand and a set of mechanical operations ordinarily applied to them
    on the other. I'd like to ask here about those operations, how we define
    them, what they are in relation to algorithms at the low-level end and
    application programs at the high-level.
    I'll call these mechanical operations "methodological primitives" and
    define the type as "an algorithmically specifiable transformation of data
    that forms a recognisable component of multiple scholarly processes". As an
    idea I would suppose the type to be a useful analytic tool with which to
    resolve what humanists do into a loosely bounded set of interoperable
    software components which could be assembled in whatever order by a scholar
    in order to aid his or her research.
    I'd suppose that alphanumeric sorting, compiling a frequency list of
    word-forms and lemmatising the word-forms of an inflected language would be
    examples at the lower-level end. At the upper would be concording a text --
    here the difference between a primitive and an ordinary program, such as
    MonoConc, would be the modular design.
    My question is, how strong is the idea of methodological primitives? How
    useful? Is this a direction in which we should go?
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    Dr. Willard McCarty, Senior Lecturer, King's College London
    voice: +44 (0)20 7848 2784 fax: +44 (0)20 7848 5081
    <Willard.McCarty@kcl.ac.uk> <http://ilex.cc.kcl.ac.uk/wlm/>
    maui gratias agere

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