Quote:

> Orthogonal in reference to a comp lang. Well, I've read this

> for quit a while and finally cracked a dictionary and got

> stuff like:

> * mutually perpendicular

> * statistically independent

> *blank stare - low background buzzzz*

> Could someone define orthogonal in reference to a comp lang so

> even I might understand it.

Look in the Jargon File (aka _New Hacker's Dictionary_), available

online at http://www.tuxedo.org/~esr/jargon/:

Quote:

> orthogonal adj.

> [from mathematics] Mutually independent; well separated; sometimes,

> irrelevant to. Used in a generalization of its mathematical meaning

> to describe sets of primitives or capabilities that, like a vector

> basis in geometry, span the entire `capability space' of the system

> and are in some sense non-overlapping or mutually independent. For

> example, in architectures such as the PDP-11 or VAX where all or

> nearly all registers can be used interchangeably in any role with

> respect to any instruction, the register set is said to be

> orthogonal. Or, in logic, the set of operators `not' and `or' is

> orthogonal, but the set `nand', `or', and `not' is not (because any

> one of these can be expressed in terms of the others). Also used in

> comments on human discourse: "This may be orthogonal to the

> discussion, but...."

Actually, the second example (logic operators) isn't really good -- it

mixes independence with orthogonality.

You may find probability terminology a help: 2 random variables are

orthogonal if their covariance vanishes. For finite probability

spaces, this implies that they're independent. That is, "one has no

effect on the other".

This is often considered a Good Thing -- it means you can get away

with understanding A and B separately, without needing to understand

A+B.

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