Glossary

Anchor State

  • A point in a Path where a business process pauses before the next Step is taken.
  • Characterized by a stable data structure and static data semantics in a specific location with a specific physical form (which could include electronic and magnetic representations) at a particular time in the lifecycle of a process.
  • Represents a point of quiescence in a subset of data.
  • The start or completion point of a transaction or transformation.
  • Can appear within many Contexts and Paths, and so is unique unto itself.

Community Symbol

  • A symbol meaningful to a group of individual humans forming a readily recognized representation of a shared concept
  • The community, in this case, defines the context within which the symbol is meaningful and recognized.
  • Members of the community have both helped to define the symbol, and actively promote the symbol through repeated use.
  • A few examples would include religious icons (e.g., cross, images of religious figures), company logos, and hobo graffiti.

Comparability

  • A characterization of the relationship between two symbols, especially symbols created and manipulated within a computer. It is a description of the relative similarity of the two symbols with regards to whether a meaningful comparison between the two symbols can be performed by the computer.
  • Two symbols can only be compared meaningfully within a computer if they are constructed in the same way such that the pattern of bits represent the same kinds of meaning in the same relative locations.
  • Two symbols are comparable if they have the same structural elements (syntactic media), and there are valid comparison operations (e. g., equivalence operations, and other functors) which can create meaningful statements about the similarity and difference in meaning represented by the symbols.
  • In the computer, two symbols constructed to represent INTEGERS may be compared for equivalence, order (greater than, less than, etc.), difference (subtraction), multiple (division), least common denominator, etc.

Context

  • From a pragmatic standpoint, a Context consists of facts, axioms and theorems which are logically consistent within the Context.
  • Methodologically, a Context is defined by processes with unique characteristics, participants, technical and functional requirements,
    and exception handling instructions.
  • The Context in effect in a situation defines actions and organizes them into procedures which it then prescribes for the achievement
    of specific goals.
  • The complete body (or set) of facts, axioms and theorems defined within the Context, and the actions, goals and procedures
    prescribed by the Context IS the Context.
  • Not all facts, axioms and theorems within a Context may be known at any given time.
  • Usually, Contexts do not have a name.
  • In Human Culture, Contexts are amorphous creatures. They don’t necessarily have well-defined edges. Two Contexts may overlap each other, sharing some but not all facts, axioms and theorems. Plus their boundaries can change instantly. New circumstances or information may add to existing Contexts, or cause new Contexts to be defined, or cause a Context to split in two or more different Contexts.
  • Some combinations of Contexts may be mutually exclusive and disjoint, while others may not be.

Derivation

  • Within a Step, data elements can be transformed from one syntax and structure into another by one or more transformations. These transformations can be described as a set of formulae or functions where the data elements of the source act as function parameters, and the data elements of the target receive the function results. These formulae are called derivation formulas, or simply “derivations”.
  • Derivations are built up from simpler functions.
  • A single derivation within a transformation represents a set of grouped functions performing in a specific sequence driven by an algorithm to derive or interpret a set of related data elements.
  • Computer derivations can be implemented by software.
  • Some derivations that can be specified within the Metamorphic Model can only be successfully/reliably performed through the implementation of human intellect and perceptual capabilities. These
    are called “human derivations”. A good example of such a derivation is the interpretation and parsing of the names of people into first names and surnames. While computer processes can be written to approximate the human capability, they can not replace
    the accuracy of humans in this task.

Domain

  • A “domain” is similar to but not the same as a context. A domain is a set of syntactic structures created with the intent of supporting symbols within a particular target context.
  • In the development of software, the domain of the software application is the type of problem space it is intended to support.
  • The contents of the application’s domain are data structures with names and corresponding relationship links that reflect the software developer’s expectations of the ontology of the target context.
  • If designed well, the data structures will support a variety of actual contexts which share the same or similar ontologies.
  • In contrast, an actual context defines the meaning and actual interpretation of the software application’s data structures for an actual group of people.
  • Hence, the difference between a domain and an actual context is that the former has potential meaning and the latter has actual meaning.
  • The distinction is important as an explanation for why different groups are able to use the same software in different (and incompatible) ways.

Function

  • Functions should be considered as ACTIONS performed on some data input that results in some other data output.
  • Typically, they will represent the application of logical, mathematical or other operations on some set of data.
  • The effect of the function on the input data may include changes to either the data structure or the concept represented by that input, or could effect changes to both the sign and concept at the same time.

Interim State

  • A point within a Step which represents a temporary condition or form of a subset of the data.
  • May describe the data structure and content of a temporary storage area (such as a staging area) used merely for purposes
    of supporting a multi-transformation Step.
  • In a Step representing a complete algorithm where the transition from one static form to another (one Anchor State to another) is only accomplished when all transformations have completed, an Interim State will permit communication from one transformation to the next.
  • A complex transaction or transformation may require several interrelated derivations, each with a start or input state with a target or output state where only a portion of data is manipulated. The impermanence/transience of the data structure required to contain this information temporarily is what defines and distinguishes Interim States from
    Anchor States.
  • A pause in a transformation may be forced if the transformation is restartable. The data structure during this pause is not within an Anchor State, it is in an Interim State.

Marker

  • A marker is a symbol used within a context to represent some especially important aspect of that context.
  • Constructed from a specifically selected portion of the syntactic medium within a context that has special, almost self-referential meaning specifying some logical subset of data.

Metamorphic Model

  • A series of documents and diagrams capturing the association of meaning to physical representations, and in particular, the
    equivalence or comparability of the respective concepts attached to different physical structures used by organizations of humans for communicating these concepts toward some end or purpose.
  • A framework for documenting, with the intent of communicating, how symbols are generated, manipulated, altered and replaced during some significant human activity, such as the performance of procedures
    intended to accomplish some goal.

Metamorphic Modeling

  • The activities, best practices, procedures, rules of thumb, constraints and thought processes required to generate Metamorphic Models.
  • A way of thinking, talking, or otherwise communicating information describing the movement of information (e.g., concepts,
    meaning) through human generated symbols and signs.

Path

  • A procedure followed by an organization in the performance of some assigned task or in pursuit of some defined goal.
  • A specific, actual instantiation of a business process in software and human business procedure.
  • A Path within a Context includes special instructions, exception handling, and other variations of a Super Path.
  • May include additional or different Steps than the Super Path.
  • Examples of specific Paths within the Context of “Hospital Admissions” might be “Inpatient Admissions” and “Outpatient Admissions”.

Personal Symbol

  • A symbol meaningful to a single person only.
  • The individual projects meaning onto some object or other physical sign (e. g., a full range of syntactic media is available to the person) for some ideosyncratic reason.
  • The person may project all manner of ritualistic behavior toward the personal symbol, which would tend to magnify the importance of the symbol to the person.
  • The symbol may act as a mnemonic device, for any type of memory.
  • Generally speaking, the personal symbol by definition is private. Other people may experience the sign themselves and not realize the importance of the object. They may not even realize that someone has projected meaning onto the thing.
  • A personal symbol may become a community symbol if, once shared, other people start using the same or similar representations for the same concepts. A personal symbol would not immediately become a community symbol just by virtue of another person learning about the meaning projected by the original individual. It would only be through shared and repeated use by more than one person that a personal symbol would change into a community symbol.

Semantic Stream

  • A metaphor used to elicit the recognition that “meaning” flows through human endeavors by becoming attached to an infinite series of physical Signs, first taking one shape and then another.
  • As the activities of humans dictate, symbols are constructed from physical things with the intent and purpose of storing some concept. As the human activity progresses, these concepts are passed from one physical representation to another, and just as water in a stream takes the shape of every curve and cranny of the stream bed, meaning fills and floods these structures.

Sign

  • Signs are the physical component of symbols.
  • Any physical manifestation which can be sensed either through direct experience or through technological means, and which can be manipulated by human beings can be used as a sign.
  • Society is filled with symbols created from all sorts of things. Computer systems use a much smaller palette of physical constructs than the larger society, but they are able to build increasingly complex symbol systems by layering symbols on top of symbols.
  • The selection of a “palette” of physical constructs or signs within a context is called the syntactic media of that context.

State

  • A condition in a moment of time, especially of something that can exhibit or experience different conditions over the course of time.
  • Within the methodology, the fundamental “thing” that changes with time is the physical manifestation/shape/structure used to represent a particular concept. There are two types of states recognized, Anchor States and Interim States.

Step

  • A transition between two points on a Path, where a process moves forward toward some goal.
  • Characterized by a change in data structure, and/or the creation, modification, integration or deletion of data, and/or the movement of data from one location and physical state to another.
  • In other words, a Step consists of the flow of data from one Anchor State to another.
  • A Step consists of or contains a defined set of transformations.

Super Context

  • A generalized or simplified, logical designation of context, derived from more specific examples.
  • Methodologically, this will be defined over a set of related business processes or activities described at a general level and devoid of variations, segmentation or technical details.
  • Used within the methodology to describe functional requirements generally. Must contain at least one Super Path, which may provide the Super Context with its name.

Super Path

  • A generalized, logical description of a specific thread of activity within a business process. May not ever actually be instantiated.
  • A generic depiction of a business process, devoid of variations, special circumstances, or exception handling.
  • A Super Path will be defined by the organizational goals it satisfies, more so than by the actual procedures it contains. In this sense, it will act as a repository of requirements, constraints and object transitions, without specifying details about how those requirements are satisfied.
  • An example of a Super Path might be: “Hospital Admissions”, in which the processes used by the Hospital to recognize and prepare new patients would be defined. Other examples in the “Hospital” domain might include such business processes as “Diagnose Patient Ailment”, “Provide Patient Treatment”, and “Monitor Patient Health Status”.

Symbol

  • Aristotle first described a SYMBOL as the association of MEANING to a PHYSICAL SIGN.
  • Symbols are RECURSIVE, in that in combination, more and more complex MEANINGS can be derived.
  • Computer Systems use a much smaller palette of physical constructs than the larger society, but are able to build increasingly complex symbols thru the malleability of the medium. Computers only work because of the human association of meaning to their electrical manipulations.

Syntactic Medium

  • The physical component of symbols. The physical manifestations or objects chosen to act as “signs” for symbols.
  • The physical medium and representational structure used to embody meaning symbolically.
  • Any physical manifestation which can be sensed either through direct experience or through technological means, and which can be manipulated by human beings. In particular, that physical manifestation used as a sign for representing some concept symbolically.
  • Characterized by a description of the physical manifestation, which includes a listing of component structures, the rules for assembling these structures, possibly the manner in which the physical manifestation is accessed (e.g., recognized or “read”), standard configurations of the structures, and possibly typical examples.

Transformation

  • A transformation is a set of derivation formulas applied to a defined subset of the data structures and contents in a source State, resulting in a subset of data structures and contents in a target State.
  • A group of such derivations applied in a definite sequence.
  • A transformation can be performed manually by a person, mechanically by a machine, or automatically by a piece of software.

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