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  Re: Naming standards
From: jimjim at sky.net (James W. Waddick) on 1997.01.04 at 01:13:09(53)
>I know no one likes numbers for names, but as a software engineer I
>have to ask.... Is there an international standard for numeric
>designations for species? I'm hoping there is a cdrom set out there
>somewhere that is just a huge list of:
>74567862347845 additional
>where the first column is a unique identifier down to the cultivar/
>subspecies level and the second is the current "official" name (or
>at least some cdrom distributors opinion of the "official" name).
>There would be a table included indicating that 1 means Plantae (or
>whatever is at the top of the tree; my biology education stopped at
>high school (and is continuing again on the net :) )), 1.2 means
>Plantae Whateverae, etc. The third column would be subspecies/cultivar
>name. (The only reason for numbers in the second column rather
>than using the Latin directly is space conservation in the table.
>(and if you leave the groupings alone but decide you simply must
>change a name, you can make the change in the table rather than
>This would be great! I could track of all of my plants in my
>database using the unique id, and display/print the information
>using whatever the latest name craze happened to be. I'd use the
>number on all tags and keep a lookup sheet handy with translations
>to the current names for the ids I happen to use. Actually,
>I'd probably use the number "dash" another number indicating
>the genetic instance so I could tell which were clones. For
>the species where there is a list of clones it would be good
>to have the clone number built into the unique id.
>All this depends on a central naming database however. Does one
>exist? If not, do any of the taxonamists know of an effort to
>get one going? Blocks of IDs could be assigned to organizations;
>if they run out, more would be assigned. IAS seems like a good
>choice for the aroids. IAS could be the keeper of the unique
>ids for members of the family Aracae. If a plant was moved out
>of Aracae, no problem! Some other group now owns that id. If
>two plants are decided to be the same, no problem: the second
>and third columns would be the same for both numbers. If a plant
>changes names, the second and/or third column would change (but
>not the database of an individual grower). Thousands of hybrids
>could get unique ids even though the second column is the same
>for all of them. Would a 32 bit number be sufficient? (allowing
>ids 0 - 4294967295) or would a 64 bit number be needed (allowing
>ids 0 - 18446744073709551615)? If the latter were the case,
>I think I'd need "local" unique ids to keep me from going crazy
>making out the labels, but then again, that's only 20 characters
>at the worst - maybe it's not too bad.
>Anyway, the advantages to such a system seem great to
>this member - any other ideas for insulating amateurs from the
>perils of taxonomical changes?
>If there is not currently a system in place, and there is support
>for forming one, let's hash out what would work for people and
>I'd be glad to help put some code together to help maintain such
>a system. I'd be doing it for myself anyway! :)
>- Todd Ruth

Dear Todd;


Jim W.

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