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"Virtual" (was: Re: [zzdev] Some thoughts on virtual structures)

Brent Turcotte wrote:
> "Virtual structures, which enable any data, such as Web pages
> and conventional databases, to be seen through the ZigZag structure"
> -- from the "GZigZag in a Nutshell" article at
> http://gzigzag.sourceforge.net/nutshell.html
> A virtual structure is a mapping of data onto a hypergrid
> implementation, as I understand it.

Hi Brent,

I do not think the term is particularly suited to this meaning. I don't
understand the nutshell article the same way you do, either, but that's
less important IMHO; I think what's important is to agree on a useful term.

The adjective "virtual" invokes the question: "So what's the real
counterpart?" What's a real structure, as opposed to a mapping of data
onto a hypergrid implementation? Makes no sense to me. For me, there are
two associations here: Ted's notion of a "virtuality" as opposed to
"reality:" a designed environment that is enacted e.g. on a computer
screen and that only exists in our heads; and the notion of "virtual
cells" as opposed to "real cells," where the real cells are those in a
hypergrid structure that are saved on the harddisk, whereas the virtual
ones are those that the computer constructs on-the-fly, for example the
numbers in a representation of the natural number system. There can only
be a finite number of real cells, as storage is limited, but, as the
example shows, a theoretically infinite number of virtual cells.

To get back to the article, it is my understanding that it uses the term
in this latter sense: the computer shows "virtual" cells that represent
*external* data: a web page as retrieved through HTML; the contents of a
database as queried through SQL. So when you used "virtual structures"
in conjunction with file formats, I thought you might be talking about,
similarly, representing the contents of a file as seen through the file
system, not stored in the hypergrid.

I cannot see a good reason to use the term "*virtual* structures" for
"mapping of data onto a hypergrid implementation," and I would propose
to simply use "hypergrid structure" instead; does this capture your
meaning? Or am I missing some good reason to use "virtual structure" instead?

Hope that we can agree on something,
- Benja