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Re: Off Topic: PathOlogical

On Sat, 3 Feb 2001, Thomas B. Passin wrote:
> I have always thought that it comes from "pathology", that is, some damaging
> medical condition.  The pathologist examines tissue samples or a body to try
> to determine what disease(s) contributed to the result.
> Thus, a "pathological" case in programming is one that causes some damaging
> condition (failure).  This is not a bug, but a test case whose construction
> was not anticipated in the program (or language) design.

This is similar to what I had assumed... however, what tripped me 
up was this sentance in Learning Python, P59,  I just had *no clue* 
how he was using the word.

  "Python evalutes the indexes from left ot right, and fetches a 
  reference to more deeply nested object at each step. (This may
  be a pathological complicated structure, but it illustrates
  the syntax used to access nested objects in general.)"
   ( followed by a rather absurd, but illustrative example)

This prompted a search of Robin Cover's pages.  And the 
following reference also is interesting:

  "Abstract: The paper presents a new strategy for the authoring of
   hypermedia documents, and describes an HTML generator called HistMaker
   and its application to the domain of anatomic pathology. A simple
   extension to HTML is presented, whose aim is to introduce a
   general-purpose grouping construct to allow the semantic markup of
   hierarchically structured hypermedia documents. Such structural
   information can be used for the effective authoring, browsing and
   searching of documents. The authoring tool HistMaker is introduced on
   the basis of a model of a pathologic case; its implementation and
   practical results are also discussed."


  "The example that follows is a HEP transaction involving a pathological
   location ladder as the target of an independent link (ilink)."

  "The use and effect of the NAMING portion of the Declaration is examined,
   and attendees will modify an SGML declaration to support a pathological
   DTD where element name case is significant and several unusual 
   characters are used in SGML names."

  "maybe not a disaster, since CONCUR is a unimplemented and should
   remain so, but with LINK, where an example would be slightly
   pathological, a document instance can prohibit processing with LINK,
   either by producing syntax errors or by making data vanish as ignored
   markup." (http://xml.coverpages.org/rcdataCTS1.html)

I know my English is not the best in the world, but I had
a hard time "parsing" the usage of "pathological".  The only
usage that really made sense was:

  "Such validators help the programmers discover structural
   patterns: useful or pathological."

Anyway... sorry for going off on such a strange topic, it is
just that I never figured that "pathological" would have anything
to do with computer science; besides describing my behavior
when I'm deeply into solving a problem.

;) Clark