Integrative Levels Classification project scheme monograph references

« Basic facet syntax

General facets

The different kinds of facets tend to group into general categories: sex of whales, style of artworks, or regime of a political organization all are properties of these phenomena; organs of whales, elements of artworks or departments of a political organization all are parts.

Experience in classification research has led to identify standard sets of categories, since Ranganathan's classical PMEST (personality, matter, energy, space, time) to many other variants, as described in several reviews [Per65; Lab06]. ILC uses ten general categories, each expressed by a digit working as facet indicator:

0	with modality, under aspect
1	at point, time
2	in neighbourhood, context, place
3	through transformation, change, process
4	of elements, material	
5	with part, organ
6	from origin, source, history
7	towards destination, direction, purpose
8	according to pattern
9	of quality, kind

Thus, A6B means "A, from origin/source B", while A2C means "A, in neighbourhood/context/place C". As it can be seen, the meaning of general facets is broad, not being related to any special class of phenomena (unlike that of special facets).

The choice and sequence of these categories can be discussed [Gno08a]. ILC broadly conforms to the agreed finding of facet analysis theory, that the order of facets should be similar to that of the passive construction in European languages: that is, the "direct object" on which action takes place is expressed first, as the basic facet (Thing), followed by its attributes (Part, Property, Material), then intransitive (Process) or transitive (Operation) actions affecting it, then the agents of transitive actions corresponding to the subject of natural language sentences (Agent, or 2P in Ranganathan's formulas), and finally specifications of place, time, and form [Vic60]. The inverted [below] sequence from 9 to 0 of ILC categories conveys such an order, although with some special features concerning especially the categories listed first. Indeed, the attributes of a phenomenon are analyzed in ILC into its general kinds or qualities (9), properties concerning patterns recognizable in the phenomenon structure (8), properties concerning the phenomenon destination, like its function or trends (7), properties concerning its origin as a basic explanation of its present nature (6). Parts, which in many systems which are cited towards the beginning, slide back to middle positions, and are distinguished into differentiated parts (5) and undifferentiated parts or materials (4). Activities affecting the phenomenon are further back within the category of transformation (3), and include agents as the origin of transformation (36), thus keeping the classical sequence object-action-subject. Formal facets like viewpoint or knowledge carrier, though appearing in their standard final position, are more formally analyzed into their various dimensions (0, 00, 000...).

Another special feature of ILC categories is that, as facets can specify any phenomenon rather than just academic disciplines, their definition is more abstract and independent from any particular integrative level: eg category 3 expresses not only "processes", which implies movement in space and time hence make sense only from the material levels onwards, but more generally transformations and changes, thus including relationships such as operations and functions in mathematics. It is within each integrative level that categories take their special meanings, like in turn mathematical operations, geometric translations, energy transfers, material movements, organic developments, mental processes, technical operations, or cultural changes. The same can be said for the neighbourhood category 2 including the more traditional notion of place, and the ordinal category 1 including the notion of time [Gno08a].

These ten basic meanings can be combined to obtain more specific categories. For example, each digit can be added to 6 to give more specific origin relationships:

60	(modality of origin)    "altered by impactant"
61	(point of origin)       "evolved through original state"
62	(place of origin)       "coming from original area"
63	(change of origin)      "developed through process"
64	(element of origin)     "made of matter, substance"
65	(part of origin)        "derived from concurrent source"
66	(origin of origin)      "created by author, producer"
67 	(destination of origin) "made for function, final cause"
68	(pattern of origin)     "modelled on pattern, constrain"
69	(quality of origin)

This combination of categories can be done recursively: 686 (origin of (pattern of origin)) "controlled by supervisor"... Meanings of combined categories, both for general and special facets, are listed in the schedules. Meanings should be as consistent as possible with the logical combination of categories, although their identification often starts from a practical need: indeed, deductive and inductive approaches interact in the development of a classification [Szo10].

If a theme phenomenon A is related to several phenomena by different facets, the relationships are usually written starting from the facet of higher ordinal value downwards:

A6B2C      "A, from origin B, in neighbourhood C"

This is the default citation order of facets, which follow the inversion principle of facet analysis [Vic60], that is, "the last ones will be the first ones". The principle is a technical solution allowing to group compound concepts by the facets usually considered to be the most relevant according to the standard citation order.

Specific facets represented by several digits are listed after more general facets that share the first digits:

A6B68D     "A, from origin B, modelled on D" 

Different orders can be used when the facet of lesser ordinal value have a greater relevance in the knowledge item:

A2C6B     "A, in place C, from origin B"

Special facets »

References cited in this section

Lab06: The use of faceted analytico-synthetic theory as revealed in the practice of website construction and design : PhD dissertation (Indiana University) / Kathryn LaBarre – Indiana University <> : 2006-.

Per65: Categories and relators: a new schema / Jean-M Perreault = Revue internationale de documentation. 32: 1965. P 136144 » Knowledge organization 21: 1994. 4. P 189198

Szo10: Universal and domain-specific classifications in an interdisciplinary perspective / Rick Szostak = Paradigms and conceptual systems for knowledge organization : proceedings of the Eleventh international ISKO conference : Rome (Italy) : 23-26 February 2010. P 71-77 / Claudio Gnoli, Fulvio Mazzocchi : ed' – Ergon : Würzburg : 2010

Vic60: Faceted classification : a guide to construction and use of special schemes. Chapter I: Combination order of facets / BC Vickery for the Classification Research Group   Aslib : London : 1960


Integrative Levels Classification. Structure. Facets. General facets / Claudio Gnoli – ISKO Italy : <> : 2010.07.22 - 2011.07.29 -

  Integrative Levels Classification project scheme monograph references