Materials Related Nomenture
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Materials Related Nomenture

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Materials Related Nomenclature

Materials Related Nomenclature

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  • 1. 7 th Scientific/Research Symposium with International Participation „Metallic and Nonmetallic Materials“ Zenica, B&H, 15-16. May 2008 ______________________________________________________________________________ SOME ASPECTS OF TERMINOLOGY IN MATERIALS RELATED KNOWLEDGE SHARING Sead Spuzic*,**, Ke Xing** and Kazem Abhary** *Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand ** University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia Keywords: Materials, terminology, ambiguity ABSTRACT Clarity of concepts and relevant terms is essential for knowledge sharing. Evolution, globalisation and acceleration of knowledge transfer have revealed hindrances such as circularity, prolixity, homonymy and jargon. The Internet enables communication with the speed of magnetic waves, thus exposing hindrances, such as misunderstanding and ambiguity. This treatise presents a review of critical concepts important for sharing the knowledge relevant to materials engineering and science. Examples of ambiguous concepts are discussed. A strategy of using trans-disciplinary and transparent concepts is proposed, following a hierarchy that allocates priority to mathematics and chemo-physics. 1. INTRO New materials and techniques are developing with a fascinating rate and this escalates problems of sharing this growing treasure of knowledge. There is considerable worldwide discord in the use of terms and definitions in materials science, engineering and education due to an evident lack of common terminological criteria for constructing and using a standardized nomenclature. The development of the Internet and digitronic information has also accelerated the multiplication of homonyms and synonyms. Ambiguous concepts are hindering the application of knowledge. Manufacturing systems relay on cross-disciplinary information required by a wide variety of users. Other socio-economic projects also operate within inter-enterprise environments and face the problem that different information models are likely to be used by different parts of the project teams. In spite of the presence of internationally established institutions promoting standardisation and globalisation of terms in engineering and scientific language [1-6] many sources [7-14] point at continuous presence of terminological inconsistencies. There is an obvious need for an international initiative to recommend clear, simple terminologies and definitions that have the potential for wide acceptance. Important examples of ambiguous concepts (terms) should be exposed to broad scrutiny within and beyond the academe. An estimate of a competent consensus will point at a feasible strategy for promoting a trans-disciplinary and transparent lexicon, with a hierarchy that allocates priority to basic disciplines.
  • 2. Systematic data base will provide evidence of ambiguous usage of key concepts. Such evaluation can be based on reviewing published sources and distributing questionnaires to analyse the trends and promote definitions that are likely to be adopted on a competent scale. In this treatise, several examples of important terms are presented along with an attempt to propose their disambiguation. The minimum intent is to demonstrate how these key terms can be defined to avoid ambiguities such as prolixity, homonymy, synonymy and circularity. Preliminary research and relevant concepts and axioms are listed in [14-16]. 2. EXAMPLES 2.1. Term and terminology Numerous sources [2, 3, 6, 17, 18] present a variety of meanings for ‘term’. The most differing options are: a) ‘term’ is a (special class of) word(s) used for something particular (e.g. a thing or concept), e.g. “He learnt many medical terms” and, b) ‘term’ stands for a definite period (extent) of time, e.g. “During his term in this office…” The following definition of the word ‘term’ is proposed: ‘Term’ is a common noun, or an expression constituted of a common noun and its modifiers, that has a precise meaning in some uses such as engineering, science, art, profession, or subject that denotes something of common significance, excluding the proper nouns. Hypernyms for ‘term’ are ‘noun’ and ‘word’. It is instructive to elaborate on the difference between the term ‘term’ and its hypernym— ‘word’. ‘Word’ denotes all grammatical variations of nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, pronouns, conjunctions, prepositions, and interjections. ‘Term’, however, is the lexical model, a concise representation of an event, relation, phenomenon, system, discipline, theory, or something else. Some typical examples of terms include ‘iron’, ‘technique’, ‘tensile strength’. Some words assume their meaning in accordance with their context, and the actual logic is governed by syntax that does not leave a margin for misunderstanding. This non-coincidental diversity should not be treated as a homonymy. Definitions of this type are purposely made general and flexible, thus making it possible for them to be applied to a broad range of cases. The rationale for the existence of such nouns includes advantages of analogy and lexical economy. For example, the common noun ‘flexibility’ generally implies ‘a capability to adapt to changes’. It may also mean ‘capability of a solid bar to be bent’ or ‘ability of a person to adapt to diverse social influences’. Such homonyms are not considered to be ambiguous. However, such common nouns do not belong to the class of ‘terms’. On the other hand, the real homonyms and synonyms can cause vagueness, confusion, and even misinformation. An important capacity of terms — to represent complex information, definition and even the complete theory — is hindered by ambiguity, homonymy, and synonymy. For example, by saying that something presents an ‘adiabatic system’, a number of chemo-physical relations are ascribed to this system, assuming an availability of a disambiguated definition.
  • 3. Sources [3-5, 17] define ‘terminology’ as a system of words used to name things in a particular discipline, e.g. ‘legal terminology’ and ‘biological terminology’, ‘educational terminology’ etc. ‘Nomenclature’ is listed as synonym. It is recommended to use this existing term meaning “a system or set of terms or symbols especially in a particular science, discipline, or art. Its hyponym is ‘word’ [3]. Sources [3 and 17] present the homonymic meaning for ‘terminology’ defining it as “a field of study (science) of terms”. It is proposed that term ‘terminology’ be applied in analogy to terms such as ‘biology’ (science of biosphere), ‘anthropology’ (science of humankind), ‘psychology’ (science of the psyche), geology (the science of materials that constitute the Earth), epistemology (science of knowledge) and so on. Hence, ‘terminology’ is a science of terms. Its direct hypernym is ‘science’. 2.2. Technique and technology Homonymous usage of the term ‘technology’ is notorious in engineering and scientific publications. It appears that numerous sources, including the international institutions and scientific journals (such as Materials Processing Technology and the World Wide Web Consortium ) use the term ‘technology’ to address a ‘technique’ or a ‘system of techniques’ [17, 18]. The following definitions are therefore presented to contribute to disambiguation of these two terms. ‘Technique’ is an organised human action that causes, directly or indirectly, a predefined change (alteration) of some phenomenon. Technique is a far-reaching term that includes both simple actions (such as wood chopping) and complex performance (such as ice-skating technique, bone transplanting technique, computer programming or a technique of landing a space-probe on the surface of the Mars). It may refer to a mode of using human assets only, such as a swimming technique. However, the term technique certainly also includes modes of using a very wide range of tools, equipment, and other means. Technical actions are sometimes performed by quite remote means (e.g. robots, computers or artificial intelligence systems). Nevertheless, they are always planned, designed, desired and controlled by humans at least to some significant extent. The hypernyms for ‘technique’ are ‘manner’, ‘method’ and ‘ability’. The term ‘technique’ should not be used to denote an activity performed by any other creatures and living forms such as dolphins, ants, bees or amoebae. For such instances it is proposed to use more common nouns such as ‘manner’, ‘ability’, ‘capacity’, etc. Using the same logic applied to derive the meaning of ‘terminology’, ‘geology’ etc, we define ‘technology’ as a science (study, knowledge) of techniques, including the study of relevant resources, e.g. the study of tools, equipments and other assets, as well as the materials and other matter forms (such as electromagnetic radiation). Hypernym for ‘technology’ is ‘science’. 2.3. Iron and metals In line with its enormous significance in economy, biosphere and human life in particular, iron is notable for being the fourth most abundant element in the earth's crust, and amongst the ten most abundant chemical elements in the Universe. However, the term ’iron’ is also used in two-word combination to denote an alloy – so called ‘cast iron’ – where the iron (chemical element)
  • 4. occupies the highest portion and significant additives are e.g. silicon and carbon. Reputable international institutions and scientific journals Materials Letters, Wear, Materials Science and Engineering, and many other disseminate publications where further homonymic mutations can be observed such as ‘white cast iron’, ‘grey cast iron’ ‘nodular iron’, ‘ductile cast iron’ or simply ‘white iron’, ‘gray iron’, ‘ductile iron’, ‘malleable iron’ etc [19]. It is worth noting that some developing languages translate this complete homonymy and infect their own taxonomy thus spreading this ambiguity even beyond the English language. An obvious solution is to use a term well established for over two thousand years − ‘ferrum’ − instead using the term ‘iron’ to denote this important chemical element. Term ‘metal’ is another example of homonymy. According to the basic scientific disciplines, metals are well defined and classified group in the periodic system of the chemical elements. Their alloys play one of the most important roles in engineering and sciences. Metals also present precisely defined components in numerous important compounds and in novel nanostructures. Another confusing term is so-called ‘white metal’, which is any of several light-colored alloys used as a base for plated silverware and ornaments, as well as any of several lead-base or tin- base alloys used for bearings, jewellery, and various miniature products (e.g. medals). It is not a good practice to use the term ‘metals’ to denote ‘alloys’, as it is done for example in [19 and 20]. The use of term ‘metallic materials’ is recommended, with a suggestion to consider the introduction of term ‘metallics’ (in analogy to ‘ceramics’, ‘polymers’ and ‘composites’). 2.4. Strength and elasticity It is hard to think of terms that are more precisely standardised and more frequently used in relation to solids than the mechanical attributes evaluated during the uniaxial tensile test. Yet, these concepts are not free of synonymy and homonymy. Typical examples are as follows: i. Ultimate Tensile Strength [25] v. Proof Stress [22s, 24] ii. Ultimate Tensile Stress [21, 22] vi. Proof Strength [24] iii. Ultimate Strength [26] vii. Offset Yield Stress [26] iv. Tensile Strength [22, 23, 27] viii. Offset Yield Strength [25-27] The term ‘tensile strength’ is defined by the International Organisation for Standards and by most national standards (e.g. ASTM) [28-32]. It can be defined as ‘the maximum tensile engineering stress a solid can withstand, during the standardised test, before fracture or necking’. Use of terms under (i) to (iii) is not recommended. If there is a need for a common term for tensile and compressive uniaxial strength, term ‘uniaxial strength’ is recommended. The term under (viii), ‘offset yield strength’, is also standardised [30, 32]. The offset yield strength of a solid can be determined by the uniaxial stress corresponding to the intersection of the stress-strain curve and a line parallel to the elastic part of the stress-strain curve, offset by a specified permanent strain (permanent deformation). The offset is frequently specified as a strain of 0.2 or 0.1 %. Therefore, the use of terms under (v) to (vii) is not recommended.
  • 5. Yet another confusing term is ‘modulus of elasticity’. Young's modulus (E) is a measure of the stiffness of a given material. It is also known as the ‘Young modulus’, ‘modulus of elasticity’, ‘elastic modulus’ or ‘tensile modulus’ [18, 22, 23]. This homonymy appears to be quite misleading for students, and even the researchers and editors of reputable journals [33] become confused about its actual correlation with the elasticity of solids. Therefore it is recommended to consider the use the unique term ‘Young modulus’ and avoid the use of the above listed homonyms. CONCLUSIONS Definitions of many important concepts, their formal notations, and how their hierarchy should be implemented, are still controversial issues. Clarity is definitely important for knowledge sharing. Unambiguous concepts are probability intensifiers of a high significance. Entropy of a system can by reduced by defining relevant topological relations of significance. In this age of cross-disciplinary knowledge, spectacularly enhanced by artificial intelligence means, both communication speed and misinformation waste multiply at critical rates. Particularly obstructive is the increase in information entropy as a result of accumulation of homonyms and synonyms combined with other causes of ambiguity. It would be helpful if the editors and publishers insist on consistency in ontology alignment as well as on the conceptual hierarchy and disambiguation. Mission of the academe includes maintaining the knowledge pellucidity, and where needed, improving the transparency within and between the disciplines. Universities are institutions that carry on the responsibility for initiating projects aiming at disambiguation and dissemination of knowledge. International academe is an appropriate platform for competent instauration of development of a standardised and unified scientific and engineering encyclopaedia. REFERENCES [1] International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC), http://www.iupac.org/ and http://www.iupac.org/general/FAQs/ns.html (accessed on 13 October 2007) [2] The American Heritage® Book of English Usage - A Practical and Authoritative Guide to Contemporary English, http://www.bartleby.com/ and http://www.bartleby.com/64/ (accessed on 13 October 2007) [3] WordNet lexical database for the English language, developed by Cognitive Science Laboratory at Princeton University, under direction of G A Miller; http://wordnet.princeton.edu/ (accessed on 5th November 2007) [4] The UNESCO Thesaurus, http://databases.unesco.org/thesaurus/ (accessed on 13 October 2007) [5] UN glossaries UN interpreters’ resource page… , http://un-interpreters.org/glossaries.html & http://databases.unesco.org/thesaurus/other.html (accessed on 13 October 2007) [6] The Columbia World of Quotations, Columbia University Press, 1996. [7] Polsani, P. R.: Use and Abuse of Reusable Learning Objects, Journal of Digital Information, Volume 3, Issue 4, Article No. 164, 2003, http://jodi.ecs.soton.ac.uk/Articles/v03/i04/Polsani/ (accessed on 5th January 2008), 2003. [8] Shulman, L. S.: Taking Learning Seriously, Change, 31(4), 10-17, 1999. [9] Gibbons, M., Limoges, C., Nowotny, H., Schwartzmann, S., Scott, P., & Trow, M.: The new production of knowledge: The dynamics of science and research in contemporary societies, London, Sage, 1994.
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