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Re: Off Topic: Pathological
- From: Jim Ancona <email@example.com>
- To: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Date: Sun, 04 Feb 2001 17:35:50 -0800 (PST)
--- "Clark C. Evans" <email@example.com> wrote:
> My spelling be damned. Note I did use pathalOgical in my searches,
> I promise.
But the word is pathOlogical... You used pathAlogical in about half of your
> > Rick,
> > I'm wondering about your usage of the word "pathological". I've seen
> > only a few times before (most recently in the book Learning Python).
> > On Sat, 3 Feb 2001, Rick Jelliffe wrote:
> > > schema languages must be initially to identify pathological cases that
> > ^
> > Free On Line Dictionary of Computing
> > http://wombat.doc.ic.ac.uk/foldoc/foldoc.cgi?query=pathalogic
> > No match for pathalogic
> > Sorry, the term pathalogic is not in the dictionary. Check the spelling
> > and try removing suffixes like "-ing" and "-s".
> > Why is this definition missing?
1. [scientific computation] Used of a data set that is grossly atypical of
normal expected input, especially one that exposes a weakness or bug in
whatever algorithm one is using. An algorithm that can be broken by
pathological inputs may still be useful if such inputs are very unlikely to
occur in practice.
2. When used of test input, implies that it was purposefully engineered as a
worst case. The implication in both senses is that the data is spectacularly
ill-conditioned or that someone had to explicitly set out to break the
algorithm in order to come up with such a crazy example.
3. Also said of an unlikely collection of circumstances. "If the network is
down and comes up halfway through the execution of that command by root, the
system may just crash." "Yes, but that's a pathological case." Often used to
dismiss the case from discussion, with the implication that the consequences
are acceptable, since they will happen so infrequently (if at all) that it
doesn't seem worth going to the extra trouble to handle that case (see sense
Definition 1 sounds like what Rick was referring to.
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