[e2e] evolution of bandwidth as a term

J. Noel Chiappa jnc at ginger.lcs.mit.edu
Thu Oct 2 15:20:34 PDT 2003

    > From: John Day <day at std.com>

    > Getting terms right and sticking to them is crucial for all scientific
    > pursuits, if not intellectual pursuits.

You have provided an irresistable hook for one of my favourite quotations:

  "I am far from thinking that nomenclature is a remedy for every defect in
  art or science: still I cannot but feel that confusion of terms generally
  springs from, and always leads to, confusion of ideas."

	- John Louis Petit, "Architectural Studies in France", 1854

which a friend of mine located some years ago.

Alas, I'm going to slightly disagree with you about terminology: sometimes
you do just have to stand back and get out of the way of the masses. If
everyone decides <foo> means <bar>, then you pretty much have to live with
it, and if <foo> used to mean <quux>, where <bar> and <quux> are
well-defined, different, concepts, then you need to come up with a new label
for <quux>.

I lost this fight some years ago for "address", which in computer science
(unlike the real world) now includes a meaning of "who" as well as "where".
We had to make up "locator" to have a term that only meant "where".
(Actually, "locator" originally had an even more specialized meaning, but the
masses took it over and defined it as "where". You can't win....)

So I think the fight may be lost on "bandwidth", alas...


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