DiscoverMe Knowledge Base

Taxonomy

What is taxonomy?

The word taxonomy is derived from two Greek words - taxis, which means order or arrangement, and nomos, which means law or science. A taxonomy is normally shown or illustrated in a taxonomy tree that breaks down classifications and sub-classifications about a particular subject in a tree diagram.

The most recognisable example of a taxonomy might be the taxonomy which is used to classify species and subspecies of plants and animals, like the following example:

As the science of classification, taxonomy has evolved to include the classification of both animate and inanimate objects, or concepts. This method of organising and presenting concepts has led to the use of taxonomy for the organisation of subject matter in libraries and other information fields, most notably the field of information technology.

This use of taxonomy in IT has many potential advantages. It can be very useful for people using these systems, e.g. making it easier to input information quickly and consistently, or more easily find information. It also helps the way systems themselves are able to be programmed. Computers are much more effective at processing structured, ordered data than they are with random data.

It is for these reasons that DiscoverMe has been designed from the outset to take advantage of taxonomy.

Examples of taxonomy

As we have seen above, taxonomy can be used to classify living beings into Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species. It can also be used in a library to  classify non-fiction books by division and subdivisions, used for deciding how books are arranged on the library shelf.

The following provides a more typical, visual example of a taxonomy being used in an information system, in this case for classifying locations:

Next steps

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