Classification Problem

The classification problem is the problem that for many real-world objects and systems; coming up with an iron-clad classification system (to determine if an object is a member of a set or not, or which of several sets) is a difficult problem. As put on the page NobodyAgreesOnWhatOoIs:

"Try to come up with a definition of a chair. For any definition you can provide, I can come up with an example of an object that either meets the definition but is not a chair (a false positive) or fails to meet the definition but is (a false negative).''

(And yet, it is noted, we can still have meaningful discussion of chairs despite this failing).

Also note that definitions may not be agreed upon by all observers--see LaynesLaw--or may change over time. SchemaEvolution, necessary to reflect changes in a company's policies and procedures, is a known difficulty in modelling business processes.

Many real-world objects have this problem; the taxonomical system used by biologists is a prime example. Some claim that this proves ThereAreNoTypes--a common argument is that if we cannot come up with an iron-clad classification system; we shouldn't come up with one at all.

On the other hand, classification is still useful despite these shortcomings.


One problem with classifications, any classifications, not just hierarchies, is that EverythingIsRelative. There is no universal classification for everything. Here is a typical scenario:

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CategoryInfoPackaging, CategoryReuse

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