David J. Cox  Explanation by Pattern  DEFINITIONS


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These definitions apply to topics related to FLIPP Explainers.  They are intended mainly for people who create FLIPP Explainers.  In several places, multiple definitions are given for perspective.

My definition of 'definition', is "any unambiguous way to refer to something that also excludes other things from being referred to."

Anamnesis.... loss of forgetfulness.


Occasionally used to connect a single frame to a distant frame one-way. Preferably a curved, dashed line to contrast visually with frame borders.  See 'Patterns' for an example.


The vertical sides of a frame, or a horizontal pattern ///////////.

Chunk 1……...

Any piece of information in any form. Normally, subject information bordered with a frame, which see.

Chunk 2……...

“A single element of learning or memory; chunks are pieced together to create memories.”  Pierce Howard in his OWNER’S MANUAL FOR THE BRAIN, THE p 775 (which see).


“Chunking is learning from experience. It is a way of converting goal-based problem solving into accessible long-term memory (productions).  Allen Newell in his book UNIFIED THEORIES OF COGNITION © 1990 President and Fellows of Harvard College, Harvard University Press. p


Refers to the number of OR or equivalent connections in a passage. Complexity does not mean that a subject is obscure or that it is simply lengthy.

Conceptual Graphs

Conceptual graphs (CGs) are a system of logic based on the existential graphs of Charles Sanders Peirce and the semantic networks of artificial intelligence. They express meaning in a form that is logically precise, humanly readable, and computationally tractable.” See References – Internet section for more-complete description..  From: A World of Conceptual Graphs  http://conceptualgraphs.org/body.html accessed 2/25/06.


A situation, influence, contingency, rule, specification, limitation, etc. Often identified by if or when.


A part of speech such as and, but, as, and because that serves to connect words, phrases, clauses, or sentences.


Frame borders and arrows. The top edge means ‘enter and consider using the content’; the two vertical sides mean ‘don’t enter or exit’; the bottom edge means ‘exit’.

Most logical structures can be built from two connection types. There are many arrangements. See
Patterns Often Used in Explainers.

for example: 


2) OR, or NOT, for example:



A physical linking of frames that represents or prohibits the logic of a line of reasoning or action.


Subject matter. Can be text, formulas, pictures, symbols, etc.  As opposed to navigational information supplied by frame structure.

Creativity…  “...creativity [is] a shift in the way a particular concept is represented.  More specifically, the most difficult and perhaps thus the most creative shifts may be those that occur across ontological trees.  One can consider these to be ‘major’ shifts.”  Michelene T. H. Chi, p 232 in CREATIVE THOUGHT: An Investigation of Conceptual Structures and Processes.  © 1997 The American Psychological Association, editors: Thomas B. Ward;  Steven M. Smith; Jyotsna Vaid.


A carefully-worded headline above each FLIPP Explainers diagram. Describes what one can expect to accomplish with the diagram.  Not merely a name or title. Often worded, "How to (accomplish what) by (doing what)".

Dictionary. 1. A reference book containing an alphabetical list of words, with information given for each word, usually including meaning, pronunciation, and etymology. 2. A book listing the words of a language with translations into another language. 3. A book listing words or other linguistic items in a particular category or subject with specialized information about them: a medical dictionary. 4. Computer Science a. A list of words stored in machine-readable form for reference as by spelling-checking software. b. An electronic spelling checker. [Medieval Latin dicti½n³rium from Latin dicti½ dicti½n-diction; See diction ]  (The American Heritage Talking Dictionary version 4.0 © 1995 Softkey International Inc.).


An area comprised of subject-related explanation scenarios designed to facilitate logical movement ("flow") by readers according to a set of rules.


“The branch of philosophy that studies the structure of knowledge.”   Pierce Howard in his OWNER’S MANUAL FOR THE BRAIN, THE  p 776 (which see).


A FLIPP Explainers diagram. A subject domain. A collection or family of subject-related scenarios (explanations).  A game board.

Explanation 1...

In FLIPP, an explanation can be thought of as either (1) a complete, single,  top-down sequence of contiguous (touching) frames and their content – a path,  track,  system, solution, scenario -- or  (2) a whole family -- or domain or complex system -- of related scenarios comprising a complete FLIPP framework or  ‘scaffold’ or  ‘formwork.’  Almost all FLIPP diagrams I have seen have contained ‘how-to” processing information for people to make complex systems work first-time through.

Explanation 2...

“A justification of a conclusion in terms of the facts and rules that led to it.”  ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE VOCABULARY  © 1992 Academic Press Inc.;  © 2004 Gordon S. Novak Jr.,  Department of Computer Sciences, University of Texas at Austin.

Explanation 3...

“A structure, act, or process that provides understanding.”  Paul Thagard in the DICTIONARY of PHILOSOPHY of MIND  Chris Eliasmith, Editor.

Facilitator.. A person or agent who improves the efficiency or meaning or quality of a system but does not contribute to the content information of the system.  For example, the conductor of a symphonic group improves the quality of the music the performers produce, but the conductor makes no musical sound.  Another example:  FLIPP facilitates understanding of the logical structure of any system without contributing any subject information the system is concerned with.


Acronym for Format for Logical Information Planning and Presentation.

FLIPP…… Most FLIPP terms have definitions that are different from common usage. To avoid confusion, terms like FLIPP knowledge, FLIPP frame, FLIPP scenario, and FLIPP path are sometimes.used.

FLIPP Explainers....

The name of a particular method of explanation and understanding.
1. A method of displaying logically complex information that is in visual patterns to advocate reader interests by emphasizing clarity and ease of use.

2. A method by which one can display in easy to follow visual patterns each of the sometimes many explanations associated with a complex subject.

3. An exceptionally simple non-verbal, non-symbolic system of logic representation of any subject material in any form or any language.


A design or pattern of arrangement aside from the information contained in the pattern.

Frame 1……...

The rectangular building block of FLIPP scenarios and of FLIPP diagrams.  Subject matter can be in any form.  Frames can be empty when functioning only as connectors.  A frame’s rectangular ‘connection border’ allows frames to be connected directly by logic to form explanation scenarios.

Sequence is top-down.  Movement through vertical sides of frames is not permitted – except see Arrow definition.  Frame size and proportions are not standard; they are changed by a planner to hold whatever content the planner wishes to include, and to connect correctly with neighboring frames.  Frame size is never an indicator of content quantities ($, frequencies, etc.).  Duplicate frames can be repeated in multiple places in a domain.  Frames often contain criteria for choosing among subsequent frames. This definition of frames is different from the several definitions of frame used in Artificial Intelligence.

Frame 2……... A frame is like a one-way conduit of user attention. It is an analog for a simple electrical conduit or gate whose vertical sides are insulators, and where the two ends of the frame each have the equivalent of an on/ off switch – one at its entry point and one at its exit. It may or may not contain subject information. Depending on how frames are connected (merely by their contiguous arrangement or by arrows,which see), frames can diagrammed to represent the user logic flows in any system.
Frame 3..... “A frame is a conceptual structure used in thinking.” George Lakoff, Rockridge Institute  SIMPLE FRAMING: An Introduction to Framing and Its Uses in Politics.
Game................. Movement through structure according to rules.  Need not be competitive.

Knowledge 1…

Knowledge is capacity to act successfully -- know-how.  It is not simply what one "knows". Rather, it is know how that is not trivial, it is logically complex, and it requires uncommon skill to accomplish. By this thinking, FLIPP Explainers deals with domains of knowledge. Scenarios represent the paths over which successful people move.

Knowledge 2…

“Knowledge is more than a static encoding of facts;  it also includes the ability to use those facts in interacting with the world.”  John Sowa in CONCEPTUAL STRUCTURES Information Processing in Mind and Machine  p 2 (which see).

Latent structures Implied (therefore unseen) patterns of the paths or trails traced by users in moving in use sequence among chunks of content information in using a system.  In text form, for example, information is not presented in user chunks, so the user paths are invisible -- latent.  They must be puzzled out by users.  In FLIPP Explainers, the structure of user chunks and paths is purposely made obvious – not latent.

Logic 1………

The intent of FLIPP is to provide smooth navigation for users choosing among complex alternatives.

Logic 2……… (Prominent text book author)  "The study of the methods and principles used to distinguish correct from incorrect reasoning." Introduction to Logic 10th edition. Irving M. Copi & Carl Cohen © 1998, 1994 Prentice-Hall, Inc., Simon & Schuster. p 694.
Logic 3……… (American Heritage Dictionary)  "1. The study of the principles of reasoning, especially of the structure of propositions as distinguished from their content and of method and validity in deductive reasoning. "
Logic 4……… (Symbolic)  Any logic system which relies on special symbols to represent subject matter and/or connection information. Precise meanings can be assigned to symbols which works well with computers. Linear format is generally used. Some connection symbols and their meanings are [from Garth Kemerling’s excellent Logical Symbols http://www.philosophypages.com/lg/e10a.htm accessed 6/26/03]:
      ~ not
      · and & but
      Ú or
       º equivalence (also symbolized as « )
Logic 5………

FLIPP logic contrasts, it seems to me, with all other forms of logic expression (text, flow charts, lists, symbols, formulas, signs, trees, jargon, etc.).   A careful definition of logic is different from the definitions I guess most people think of.   Logic simply relates to whether chunks of meaning (words, phrases, statements, numbers, numeric formulas, for example) are connected in an ovbious way that leads unskilled users to the right conclusion, all important conditions considered.  Everyday logic is easy.  When someone tells a story, writes a news article, a letter, or a novel, we read their long single track until we reach the only endpoint there is, called  “The End.”

Conditional logic (IFs and ORs in linear sentences), and symbolic logic seem to make many people uncomfortable.

Uncertainty is generated by the different definitions of logic.   When people say, “That’s not logical!”  they often seem to mean “the conclusion doesn’t make sense.”  The careful definition of logic says  ‘logical’ means ‘clearly connected steps of reasoning,’  or "well-formed."  This means “That’s not logical!” doesn’t have to imply the truth of the conclusion.  For example, the connection-logic of the statement, “Today is Tuesday”  is clear,  but the conclusion ‘Tuesday’ may be untrue.  So something that is ‘logical,’ can be false and true.  This, I guess, seems not  how most people use to word ‘logic.’  Other fundamental concepts  like  ‘knowledge,’  'system,’  ‘user,’  ‘explanation,’  ‘pattern,’  ‘network,’  ‘understanding’  are also not often carefully defined by users.

Logic (carefully defined as simply ‘clear connections from start to finish’) is represented by contiguously formed patterns of two types: inclusion (‘IS’ or ‘THEN’ or ‘ALL’) and exclusion (‘ISN’T’ or ‘NOT’ or ‘NEVER).’  These patterns clearly show steps of reasoning which lead readers (or computers) over "good formed paths" to (only) valid conclusions associated with any system.  Often multiple conclusions are valid.

Any FLIPP scaffolding works like an architectural sketch showing how all rooms (like empty frames) in a floor plan are laid out.  From this, we can trace (by penciling-in or imagining)  all  traffic flows (“scenarios” or “processes”) including the ones that don’t work because a wall is in the way.  Everything that counts is visible at once.  If they are not visible or we can only talk about them -- we can’t  see how they are connected.  This is like trying to explain by talk and arm waving a dozen different highway routes to someone.  It doesn't work.

FLIPP seems different from all (?) other ways of describing relationships, including:

  • text in linear form -- writing or saying narrative sentences. Neither the logic chunks nor alternate sequences are visible and have to be figured out.
  • syllogisms – a form of text
  • symbolic forms – words or mathematic, logic, or flow chart symbols. (Symbols have to be learned)
  • flow charts  (label space is restricted; flow connector lines are ambiguous; 20+ symbols are used)
  • readability principles  (deal only with linear text form)
  • web usability principles  (assume non-standard screen displays)
  • road maps  (show no restrictions on conditional starting or ending places or routes)
  • spread sheets  (show no restrictions on conditional starting or ending places or processes)
  • tree diagrams  (provide no merge function)
  • truth tables  (show areas that are not contiguous; label space is restricted)
  • force field diagrams  (sequences are not provided)
  • lists of instructions for computers are in linear form
  • Logical Diagram (or Graph) Ger. Logische Figur; Fr. Diagramme logique; Ital. diagramma logico. A diagram composed of dots, lines, &c., in which logical relations are signified by such spatial relations that the necessary consequences of these logical relations are at the same time signified, or can, at least, be made evident by transforming the diagram in certain ways which conventional 'rules' permit." ('Logical Diagram', DPP 2 / CP 4.347, 1902)  From Commens D ictonary of Peirce’s Terms.
    Mathematics 1 “Mathematicians do not study objects, but relations between objects.  Thus they are free to replace some objects by others so long as the relations remain unchanged.  Content to them is irrelevant: they are interested in form only.” Henri Poincarè quoted at http://www-groups.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/~history/Quotations/Poincare.html  School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of St. Andrews, Scotland.
    Mathematics 2

    FLIPP is a mathematical concept.  The Britannica defines mathematics as “the science of structure, order, and relation that has evolved from elemental practices of counting, measuring, and describing the shapes of objects. It deals with logical reasoning and quantitative calculation …” from Encyclopædia Britannica Premium Service http://www.britannica.com/eb/article?eu=52650 accessed 12/28/03.


    Meaning arises only when things or ideas are connected. Connections are obvious in, for example, architectural models and structures, sequences, patterns, implications, thoughts, causes, exclusions, and definitions. Connections of movement, as in games, involve moving or tracing or reasoning through physical connections, usually accumulating information from them while on the move.

    Metaphysics n.  1. used with a sing. verb Philosophy The branch of philosophy that examines the nature of reality, including the relationship between mind and matter, substance and attribute, fact and value. 2. used with a pl. verb The theoretical or first principles of a particular discipline: the metaphysics of law. 3. used with a sing. verb A priori speculation upon questions that are unanswerable to scientific observation, analysis, or experiment. 4. used with a sing. verb Excessively subtle or recondite reasoning. [Pl. of Middle English methaphisik from Medieval Latin metaphysica from Medieval Greek (ta) metaphusika Greek (Ta) meta (ta) phusika (the things) after the physics, the title of Aristotle's treatise on first principles (so called because it followed his work on physics) meta after; See meta- phusika physics; See physics ]   met·a·phys·ic ( mµt”…-f¹z“¹k) n. 1. a. Metaphysics. b. A system of metaphysics. 2. An underlying philosophical or theoretical principle: a belief in luck, the metaphysic of the gambler. [Middle English methaphisik, metaphisik; See metaphysics (The American Heritage Talking Dictionary version 4.0 © 1995 Softkey International Inc.)
    Mission... The general intent or purpose of an individual or group.  Not as narrow as a goal or target which are measures of performance.  The mission of the Red Cross is _____.
    Ontology .. “An ontology is defined as a set of concepts and their relationships.”  Genetic Engineering News  1/26/06
    Panel..... A FLIPP frame.  A good metaphor is a home electrical fuse box where one finds controls of the circuits in one’s home.  A control panel.  User action is implied.

    Paradigmatic shift…..

    “A fundamental change in one or more assumptions in a defined area of knowledge, such as Copernicus’s assertion that the sun, not the earth, occupies the center of our solar system.” Pierce Howard in his OWNER’S MANUAL FOR THE BRAIN, THE p 779 (which see).

    Pattern ……….

    A systematic two-dimension arrangement of connected parts.


    Individuals or teams who design an Explainer and help users succeed with it.


    Individuals who use Explainers and suggest how they can be improved. Users.

    Pragmatic. Practical.


    Moving step-by-step along a connected sequence of frames to a conclusion.

    Representation "A structure that can be used as a substitute for something else,  for a certain purpose, as one can use a map as a substitute for an actual city."   Marvin Minsky THE SOCIETY OF MIND  p 331.


    Quick Rules for Reading Explainers:

    Start at the top, move down making choices.
    Don’t cross vertical lines or horizontal barriers ////////.
    Follow any arrow joining two frames.
    End in an endframe.

    Detailed Rules for Reading Explainers:

    Read the description to be sure you are in the right domain.
    Select whichever top frame matches the real situation you are facing.
    Move downward by making choices among next frames to select a valid scenario.
    Don't cross through vertical lines or horizontal barriers /////////.
    Follow any arrow joining two frames.
    End in an endframe, usually at the bottom of the diagram.


    An explanation, which see.

    Science.... “Science is built up with facts, as a house is with stones.  But a collection of facts is no more a science than a heap of stones is a house. Henri Poincarè quoted at http://www-groups.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/~history/Quotations/Poincare.html  School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of St. Andrews, Scotland.

    Structure 1...

    Something constructed of connected parts, designed to let something else work or be accomplished. A car is constructed of parts connected and designed to move and transport people so people can accomplish what they wish. A FLIPP diagram is constructed of connected pieces of information (scenarios and frames) designed to let people do and accomplish what they believe makes sense.

    Chess boards, baseball fields, comic strips, flow charts, and FLIPP Explainers diagrams are examples of two-dimensional (area) structures which, by rules, organize movement of players to reach end-points.  Domains, scenarios, and frames are nested structures that help people make sense of complex concepts.  Modules -- groups of frames -- can be formed by resizing frames without changing content. §

    Structure 2

    A designed, systematic, visual arrangement of ‘parts’ which accommodate the functioning of some separate agent.  For example, a car is a designed, systematic, visual arrangement of parts which accommodates travel of its occupants,  In contrast, neither a list of the car’s parts nor a pile of the car’s parts nor a photo of the car are structures.


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