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Dumb Question

Postby mikespeir » Fri Feb 18, 2011 7:22 am

At least I feel dumb having to ask it.

In a series such as

Item A,
Item B,
Item C,
Item D,
...

what is the term for the A, B, C, D, and so on? Is there such a term?
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Postby Slava » Fri Feb 18, 2011 10:42 pm

First off, welcome to the Agora. Here's hoping you like it here and post regularly.

Second, as they say, there's no such thing as a dumb question. So, to that end, I'm proposing the simple ordinals (first, second, third, fourth, etc.) as the names you're looking for.

This works for two examples of lists: when you already have the list, and when you know the order in which the list must be. If the list is random, and you're looking for "that which must come first," I admit to being at a loss.

I wonder if perhaps this kind of listing terminology might exist in engineering or construction. Or even film-making, or such things.

I'm still voting for the ordinals, though.
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Postby mikespeir » Sat Feb 19, 2011 5:41 am

Thanks, Slava. Actually, I kind-of lean toward "ordinal" myself. It's just that so far I haven't been able to find an example of the word being used in quite that way. Still, it does make sense. Like you, I'm thinking there must be a term proprietary to some specialized field. But if I can't find one, I'll probably go with "ordinal."

Thanks again.
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Postby Philip Hudson » Thu Feb 23, 2012 2:05 am

First, second, third, fourth, etc are counting number ordinals. Cardinals are the numbers taken as values without any order. The set {17, 1, 53, 11} is a set of cardinals. It might be some kind of seqence but I didn't have a sequence in mind. The set {!, 5, 9, 13, etc} is a sequence created by adding 4 to each number to get the succeeding number. With a fifty year old MS in mathematics, I am pretty sure of that. I never heard the word ordinal as any other designation, especially as in an alphabetical sequence. It could be. Ordinal has other, unrelated, definitions.
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