Faceted Classification

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A faceted classification system allows the assignment of multiple classifications to an object, enabling the classifications to be ordered in multiple ways, rather than in a single, pre-determined, taxonomic order.

The most prominent use of faceted classification is in faceted navigation systems that enable a user to navigate information hierarchically, going from a category to its sub-categories, but choosing the order in which the categories are presented. This contrasts with traditional taxonomies in which the hierarchy of categories is fixed and unchanging. For example, a traditional restaurant guide might group restaurants first by location, then by type, price, rating, awards, ambiance, and amenities. In a faceted system, a user might decide first to divide the restaurants by price, and then by location and then by type, while another user could first sort the restaurants by type and then by awards. Thus, faceted navigation, like taxonomic navigation, guides users by showing them available categories (or facets), but does not require them to browse through a hierarchy that may not precisely suit their needs or way of thinking.

The Colon classification developed by S. R. Ranganathan is the most prominent example of faceted classification in the physical world, where for many years this approach to classification was thought of as something complicated, difficult to understand and exotic. The rules for generating class numbers are a key part of this complication, but they are necessary to make sure each item gets its proper spot on the bookshelf. Thus faceted classification differs from traditional library classification schemas like the Dewey Decimal System and Library of Congress, in which each document has a "correct" (or, at least, agreed upon) place somewhere in a single, large, hierarchically organized classification system.

In the online world, faceted classification becomes much more useful because it is not bound by this constraint. It makes information access useful, by providing multiple navigational paths to any one item of information.

In contrast to a folksonomy, the information in each of the facets can be organized into a hierarchy (for instance, the location facet could be divided by state, then cities, then neighborhoods). Also, folksonomies are emergent properties of social tagging systems in which individuals apply "tags" as they please, without control or coordination; faceted systems require someone to make a decision about which facets to record in the database and, often, which values will be permitted.

Faceted classification is also used in software engineering to support software reuse. It is also used outside of navigation systems to drive the dynamic display of the data in a database.

[edit] Faceted classification software

The following is a partial list of available software products whose predominant purpose is to perform faceted classification. Some of these are accompanied with detailed descriptions of their theory of operation or internal algorithms, which can provide additional insight into how faceted classification may be accomplished.

* Dieselpoint
* Endeca
* iSeek
* Nstein Technologies
* Siderean
* SpeedTrack
* Solr

[edit] See also

* Taxonomy
* Folksonomy
* Dimensional database (for OLAP)
* Findability
* Controlled vocabulary
* Information architecture
* Faceted browser

[edit] External links

* How to Make a Faceted Classification and Put It On the Web - an article by William Denton
* Thesaurus Building & Use - further links to classifications schemes online
* Use of Faceted Classification
* Faceted Classification
* Faceted browsing
* Faceted navigation demonstrations
* The Flamenco Open Source faceted classification project
* Use of Faceted Classification – article by Kathryn La Barre
* Faceted Searching with Apache Solr (Apachecon 2006)

A placeholder for a page about Faceted Classification.

Chris Purcell is a student at Cambridge and has developed some FC features on his PeriPeri wiki, described in more detail under what he calls ContextualLinking .

Jeff Young at OCLC is working on a project that used to be called MetaWiki and is now called WikiD .

On Sunir Shah's MeatballWiki has a page on MetadataSyntax that might be of interest.
Recommended Reading

* Author: Broughton, Vanda.
Title: Essential classification
Primary Material: Book
Subject(s): Subject cataloguing.
Publisher: London : Facet Publishing, 2004.
Description: 272 p.
Classmark: 025.43 BRO
Location: Book collection - First floor

See also:

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