David J. Cox  Explanation by Pattern  INTRODUCTION


Main Claim
Case Study
User Comments
Other Formats
OR Complexity
New Notes
Sages Say


". . . unless detail is placed into a structured pattern, it is rapidly forgotten." Jerome Bruner, Professor of Psychology at Harvard The Process of Education Harvard University Press Cambridge 1960. p 24.


Massive simplification has been achieved in the way complicated information is explained to users. It involves arranging information in a new type of format which, unlike text, displays chunks of information directly connected in easily seen scenario patterns. This lets users see at a glance all  the valid patterns of explanation that exist for a complex subject.

The new formatís main attribute is that it is astonishingly user friendly.  This means it is also friendly for the person doing the explaining -- the system manager, or owner, or maintainer.

By format, I mean a pattern of arrangement aside from the information contained in the pattern. Empty crossword puzzles are an easily recognized format, for example. Flow charts and baseball diamonds are also familiar formats. Ordinary text sentence form is familiar but unfriendly: Its line-like form does not show readers where alternate lines of thought branch -- their form is only implied. Different kinds of patterns are needed to accommodate multiple conditions or situations or choices. Such forms and connections are the business of logic. 'Logic' is one of FLIPP's middle names.

Field of 11 top-down patterns

Scenarios in the new format, on the other hand, do split and overlap in "logic flow" patterns.  They become maps of logic.  The patterns for a given subject form a rectangular field filled with different size frames. All explanations that make any system work are shown in top-down paths that overlap.  Readers simply select the explanation path that addresses the conditions being faced in real life.  Millions of paths may be involved in explaining a single subject.  Logically complex patterns form easily-traced patterns without words, names, or special symbols to represent them.  All starting points are grouped together; all ending points are grouped together.  These are the connections to other modules.  Compared to text and, it appears, all other formats, this is massive simplification for readers.

Most disciplines -- modern symbolic logic and mathematics, for example -- use textís linear format and so, are bound by its limits. This means most disciplines are candidates for simpler explanations with the new method. This suggests massively broad application.

This collection of papers describes how the new format works;  how it compares with other formats; where it has been used;  what users have said about their experience with it;  and how to construct the diagrams.

Users claim that clarity (understanding) and efficiency (time) and environment (attitudes) are improved with the new method. The overall result is that user reaction has been universally positive. Environments for learning, planning, and cooperation are changed, according to user comments. The method allows one to be surprisingly friendly and clearly logical, first-time through, to oneís readers. ß

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