Natural Computing: Analysis of Tables for Computer Representation.

Report No. ARL-TR-2041
Authors: Som Karamchetty
Date/Pages: February 2000; 62 pages
Abstract: Some fundamental objects in practical documents have not been implemented in software so that they can be used easily for calculating. One such object is the table-despite the mistaken view that databases are adequate representations of tables. A survey of practical tables found in a variety of real-world documents reveals that many of their useful features are not captured in software. This report proposes data structures and computer representation for table objects. Through the adoption of such structures and representations, practical table objects can be developed for use by domain specialists. Such tables embedded in electronic documents can be used in interactive applications to retrieve data, but most importantly, they can be used as functional representations for copying and pasting into procedures and programs. Use of these table objects, together with other natural computing objects (such as equations, graphs, and procedures), will permit electronic documents like handbooks, textbooks, journals, and bulletins to be used seamlessly for calculations by both domain specialists and naive users. Such developments will reduce the lag between the availability of information and its use in calculations, and encourage the further development of knowledge. Software development for computation will change and its costs will be contained.
Distribution: Approved for public release
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Last Update / Reviewed: February 1, 2000