Topic: symbolic representation

topics > Group: naming

goals for a programming system
natural language

abstraction by name
abstraction in programming
discrete vs. continuous
meaning vs. reference
named constants and expressions
names as rigid designators
names independent of objects
number representation
philosophy of mind
programming language
proper names
Thesa data model
software models of reality
software portability
symbolic execution
symbolic manipulation of formulas
symbol table
word vs. picture
words defined by words
words in natural languages


A symbol is a visible sign of an invisible microcosm, a node in an information web. Symbols form the real stuff of a language with variety provided by differing interpretations. For instance variables, procedures, types, constants, literals, and functions are all symbols. Literals are symbolic constants and expressions, preventing "mystery" numbers. Symbols allow a programmer to re-use other's work without being concerned about implementation. This is a motive behind high-level languages in providing symbolic access to machine operations. (cbb 5/80)
Subtopic: communication as symbolic up

Quote: communication requires a predefined mapping of representations into information [»richG9_1975]
Quote: information in its ordinary sense means something that is communicated by conscious, intentional agents via symbols that have an agreed interpretation [»raatP_1998]

Subtopic: symbol as innate up

Quote: humans spontaneously assign symbols to objects and events; animals do not [»hausMD_2000]
Quote: humans manipulate symbol sequences to alter their meaning; a combinatoric system not available to animals

Subtopic: levels of abstraction up

Quote: consider this sequence: Godfather, Paris Theater, Paris at 58th and 5th, turn left... [»martJ_1975, OK]

Subtopic: contextual symbol up

Quote: symbols have multiple, complex meanings and denotations, often varying from one context to another [»kentW6_1991]

Subtopic: symbol as reminder up

Quote: man hath set up a visible mark, which when seen again, may bring to mind the original thought; like a rock at sea [»hobbT_1650, OK]
Quote: names are marks of human voices which recall conceptions of the things named [»hobbT_1650, OK]

Subtopic: symbol as concept up

Quote: a concept is a unit, i.e., it is discrete; e.g., easier to remember discrete relationships than continuous quantities [»sowaJF_1984]
Quote: combine geometrical analysis with algebra by reducing proportions to simple symbols and relations [»descR_1637]
Quote: there is nothing universal but names; the things named are not themselves universal [»hobbT_1650, OK]

Subtopic: symbol as thing up

Quote: in ontological symbolism, a symbol refers to an independent object or thing; with operative symbolism (Leibniz), the meaning of symbols is irrelevant to their manipulation [»kramS2_1996]

Subtopic: word as symbol up

Quote: a name is a symbol or combination of symbols by which an entity is known [»senkME1_1973]
Quote: the classification of ideas is the true basis on which words (the symbols of ideas) should be classified; a basis for the philosophy of language [»rogePM_1853, OK]
Quote: a symbol or representation is any character string that stands for something, e.g., 'six feet' [»kentW1_1984]

Subtopic: physical sign as symbol up

Quote: a physical thing can refer to another thing or a complex physical situation; acts as a sign [»stamRK7_1985]
Quote: semiotics starts with the notion of a sign which includes signal or transitory, event-like signs [»stamRK7_1985]

Subtopic: programming as symbolic up

Quote: symbols are everything outside of the system that could have an occurrence inside the system; fixed set, e.g., the English alphabet, 1, x, the American flag [»kentW6_1991]
Quote: EDSAC assembly routines provided symbolic subroutine calls and symbolic labels; neither was used much [»campM1_1980]
Quote: use English words to identify subroutines; start with a non-notational character and end with blank tape [»glenAE2_1953]
Note: a name can be a literal to use, a location to find, a value to track, or a function to execute [»cbb_1990, OK]
Quote: a file has one, symbolic name that is arbitrarily long and descriptive [»daleRC_1965]
Quote: a file is a linear array of data accessed by name or by segment number plus offset; independent of device
Quote: programming languages deal with abstract objects, contrary to the conventional view that programs are symbol strings plus rules for manipulating these strings; the later yields a macrogenerator without regard to semantics [»straC8_1967]

Subtopic: data as symbol up

Quote: resemblance between a database's contents and the original information depends on a common understanding of what references mean [»kentW_1978]
Quote: some authors equate signs with information, but lose the meaning of that information

Related Topics up

Group: goals for a programming system   (21 topics, 983 quotes)
Group: information   (46 topics, 1160 quotes)
Group: natural language   (16 topics, 539 quotes)
Group: parameters   (10 topics, 145 quotes)
Group: philosophy   (60 topics, 2323 quotes)
Group: variables   (10 topics, 128 quotes)

Topic: abstraction (62 items)
Topic: abstraction by name (29 items)
Topic: abstraction in programming (67 items)
Topic: discrete vs. continuous (47 items)
Topic: entries (12 items)
Topic: logic (84 items)
Topic: meaning vs. reference (49 items)
Topic: named constants and expressions (21 items)
Topic: names as rigid designators (43 items)
Topic: names independent of objects (34 items)
Topic: number representation (16 items)
Topic: philosophy of mind (78 items)
Topic: programming language (29 items)
Topic: proper names (35 items)
Topic: Thesa data model (58 items)
Topic: software models of reality (24 items)
Topic: software portability (43 items)
Topic: symbolic execution (9 items)
Topic: symbolic manipulation of formulas (12 items)
Topic: symbol table (4 items)
Topic: word vs. picture (12 items)
Topic: words defined by words (25 items)
Topic: words in natural languages
(40 items)

Updated barberCB 2/05
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Thesa is a trademark of C. Bradford Barber.