Re: orthogonal specs

Eric S. Raymond (esr@snark.thyrsus.com)
Sat, 19 Oct 1996 09:46:53 -0400 (EDT)


From: "Eric S. Raymond" <esr@snark.thyrsus.com>
Message-Id: <199610191346.JAA03917@snark.thyrsus.com>
Subject: Re: orthogonal specs
To: Albert-Lunde@nwu.edu
Date: Sat, 19 Oct 1996 09:46:53 -0400 (EDT)
Cc: davidp@earthlink.net, www-html@w3.org
In-Reply-To: <199610190622.AA257586147@merle.acns.nwu.edu> from "Albert Lunde" at Oct 19, 96 01:22:27 am

> > A fabulousity. Thoroughly orthogonal to the American Heritage
> > dictionary definition:
> > 
> > Mathematics.
> > Relating to or composed of right angles.
> 
> The jargon file quote is based on a much better mathematical definition.

Jargon File editor speaking...

The Jargon File definition was abstracted from usage prevalent among hackers
and computer scientists as long as I've been in the field, which is 20 years.
As an ex-mathematician, I knew when I added it in 1990 that mathematicians
had been using it that way even longer.  I strongly suspect that it has been
well-established mathematical slang since Heaviside's popularization of
vectorial methods around the turn of the 20th century, if not earlier.

My impression is that this usage is not part of the production vocabulary in
engineering fields outside of computing. However, it should be readily
comprehensible (and rather appealing) to anyone with a math background
including vector calculus or higher fields; therefore I would expect EEs,
MechEs etc to hear it correctly even if they don't use it themselves.
-- 
	<a href="http://www.ccil.org/~esr/home.html">Eric S. Raymond</a>