[PD] Question about object categorizing

Mathieu Bouchard matju at artengine.ca
Sat Sep 26 05:57:19 CEST 2009

On Sat, 26 Sep 2009, PSPunch wrote:

> Hi Mathieu,
>> I'd also ask what's the logic in not putting all the AUDIO FILTERS object 
>> classes in the AUDIO MATH section, and/or in not putting all the AUDIO MATH 
>> classes in the AUDIO FILTERS section. But I don't expect an answer at all.
> May I take it that there really is no relevancy (as far as you are aware)?

No, I know exactly what the relevancy is, I just don't enjoy it. First, a 
person tells himself/herself «it would be better if there were 
categories». Then the person looks for characteristic features of the 
elements to be categorised, so that categories can be made. Those features 
have to be easy to think about. Turns out that one of the easiest features 
to think about in this case, are things like: where you first learned the 
basic concept of each object class. It's a kind of microcosm of the whole 
job-title social structure. Let me give an example.

[lop~] is not an operation you learn in elementary-school or high-school 
math, therefore it doesn't fit in MATH. It doubly doesn't fit in math, 
because it isn't taught in a Math Department. A Math Department is a 
social structure that concentrates on any math concept that doesn't belong 
to any other discipline already, because if Electrical Engineers already 
occupy the [lop~] land, it's not only redundant for Math Departments to 
claim it, it also would make Mathematicians look like Electrical 
Engineers. So not only [lop~] is not part of Math Depts, but a bunch of 
related topics are just on the border, so they get lumped into a course 
called Applied Math, which is all made of pure theory, it's just a form of 
discrimination against kinds of Math that are too much in use by other 
departments. Meanwhile, Electrical Engineers would say that [lop~] is 
math, except when they get distracted by a category system. But most of 
all, for music students, [+~] is true math, whereas [lop~] is something 
magical and not math, because [lop~] is not part of what they learnt in 
courses labelled as «math» before, so it looks a lot more «audiosome» than 
+~ does. This is a summary. The actual situation is more complicated.

So basically the category system has more to do with social factors than 
with anything else... and those social factors don't help seeing things as 
they are. For example, something that unites most of AUDIO MATH object 
classes, is that the effect only involves one instant at a time, no 
memory, no feedback. This obviously excludes all four [fft~] and [framp~] 
from that category system, as those are block-oriented object classes 
(which could be the name of another category). But then, there are a few 
expatriates that you have to pick from all over to put them in the 
instant-oriented category. For example, [cos~] from the OSCILLATORS AND 
TABLES category; but also, the [tabread...] classes are instant-oriented, 
but they differ from all others so far, because they use data that doesn't 
come from the signal. Then we could argue about whether [noise~] belongs 
in or not (because it depends on how you look at it).

I'm not completely against categories... I'm trying very hard to make good 
categorisations, because it's hard for me to find a categorisation that I 
can take seriously, and I'm trying to find one.

> As there is a chance of it being widely circulated, I guess he may have 
> to issue it based on pd-help "as is", and refer to Mathieu's comment if 
> anyone asks the same,

At this point, I don't expect Pd's category list to change at all, so, 
depending on what it is that you're doing, it may be better to just go 
with Pd's categories, if you have any advantage in following Pd's 

> although if it was never brought up here, chances of it being asked 
> again may be slim.

Oh, the general topic was brought here in the past. For example, I 
remember some years ago there was a thread about whether [namecanvas] is 
OBSOLETE or not. It's not. (As you see, it didn't change Pd's official 

But also, for each post to the pd-list, there may be 10 or 100 people 
asking themselves the same thing, roughly speaking. You don't know. In any 
case, downloads of pd-extended aren't on the same scale as the member-list 
of pd-list, and then, not everybody ever writes at all.

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| Mathieu Bouchard, Montréal, Québec. téléphone: +1.514.383.3801

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