[e2e] evolution of bandwidth as a term

Cannara cannara at attglobal.net
Thu Oct 2 15:52:45 PDT 2003

Christian, I'm surprised, you've got it a bit backwards -- the unit is not the
concept.  "Mass" is a scientific concept, so of course it has many associated
measures, all valid.  The same goes for "power", "information", or
"bandwidth", when used to denote their defined concepts.  Now, if we take two
concepts and then use the same term for them, we're not simply "overloading"
(such a weak-willie UI idea) them, we're confusing them and any reader.  

We could add those who misuse "baud", but that misuse is generally of
ignorance, since baud hasn't the same face marketability as "bandwidth".

The purpose of language (except in the law :) is to communicate efficiently,
quickly and effectively.  So when one has to reread something I wrote that
uses "bandwidth" incorrectly for "data-rate", "information rate", etc., then
they deserve to complain to me.  I am being unscientific.  I may be trying to
be manipulative for marketable reasons, but I'm at fault and deserve
linguistic chiding.

There is no cost to any of us in using "bandwidth" properly, as the spectral
width of a channel or signal, in any system of units; and never using it in
place of "bit rate", "data rate", yadda, yadda.  There are so many ways to
express information rate that one who chooses to misuse "bandwidth" is clearly
ignorant or manipulative, perhaps weak in relation to peers who misuse it too,
and certainly inconsiderate of all who listen or read, especially those new to
English, who have as much right to gain meaning from our communications as
quickly and as easily as we.


Christian Huitema wrote:
> > The Internet nor much else of the modern world could not have been
> > built without carefully defining and adhering to the definitions of
> > such things as:  bandwidth, mass, joule, kilogram, power, charge,
> > bit, watt, etc.
> You are mixing apples and oranges, or more precisely well defined
> international system units (joule, kilogram, watt) with common words
> (bandwidth, power, charge). As Loki observed, common names commonly have
> multiple meanings. In fact, bandwidth is not much more conflated than
> "mass", which not always measurable in kilograms, and definitely less
> than "power" which is by no means always measurable in watts. If you
> want something unambiguous, use Hz or bps, don't use bandwidth.

More information about the end2end-interest mailing list