De-CITE Axioms

Analysis of definitions of key concepts that are used in education, research and other communication of knowledge,  requires an axiomatic definition of the term ‘definition’ itself.

The minimum intent of the following definition is to present a reference (a metric, a comparator, or a norm) that must be observed when defining scientific and engineering concepts.

It is useful to start with a quite general term — ’something’ — which can mean anything (but it does not automatically include ‘everything’).

The following term ‘ambient’ is used for everything in the vicinity of, and, to a certain degree within, something.

‘Event’ refers to something that can be distinguished from an ambient.

‘Relation’ involves two or more events, and a ‘system’ is something constituted by two or more relations.

‘Phenomenon’ is a generic term (hypernym) for the above terms, providing that at least one human sense indicates (directly or indirectly) its existence. Our ambient is constituted of phenomena and other events, relations and systems within and beyond us.

It is assumed that all definienses used in the following treatise are already intrinsically known. It is also assumed that definienses are not homonymous, nor synonymous. They do not contradict each other.

It is worth taking note that some of the above concepts will become definable once the definition of the concept ‘definition’ is agreed upon.

Definition’ is a fixed (posited) set of relations that significantly increase the probability of an intended (premeditated) realisation (a change, an objectivisation, an actualisation).

Such a realisation is to be achieved by a system that can be organised to utilise a definition for such a specified purpose. A definition cannot be generated, or used without the existence of a system which is organised and structured above a certain level of chaos. However, once it is generated and recorded, a definition can continue to exist (to be recorded) without the existence of the initial system.

A definition becomes autonomous from its own representation (imprint, record) and poses a systematic model, a concept that can be distinguished from any substance of which its record is made. Therefore, an identical definition can be replicated endlessly – it is infinitely shareable.

In short: a definition is a probability intensifier for an intended or anticipated realisation (actualisation, objectivisation). Each definition is unalterable, terminable, infinitely shareable, and it does not contradict to, or otherwise deny, any other definition.

The attribute ‘fixed’ in the above context emphasizes the difference between the restless matter and the permanent definition. In other words, although any phenomenon and ambient are in a state of perpetual motion, a definition—a model—can be generated, not to imply that the defined phenomenon is at a standstill, but to create a specific unchanging metric; unchanging until useless.

A definition should be complemented with a ‘minimum intent statement’, which specifies a context that delimits a minimum domain of purposes for which this definition can be used. This statement does not exclude a possibility of using the same definition correctly for some other purposes. However, any extended use must not violate (contradict) already-established meanings (e.g. it must not cause synonymy or homonymy).

An important feature of a 'definition' is that it does not contradict or otherwise deny any other definition.

In addition, a definition must be complemented with axioms, with one or more examples, and, when needed and possible, with audio-visual presentations. A definition should also include both hypernym(s) and hyponym(s). Including holonym(s), meronym(s), antonym(s), etc is recommended, but may be omitted when it causes prolixity.

The following example is given to demonstrate an example of a ‘definition’ (the axioms are identical to the above listed axioms). A ‘tool’ is a phenomenon that significantly increases the probability of realisation of an intended (premeditated) change, providing that relevant definitions are used; e.g. a hammer, a pen, etc. An example of using a tool is the use of a hammer to make a wooden fence. A hypernym for a “tool” is a ‘resource’. An example of a hyponym is ‘dishware’; the holonym is ‘equipment’. An example of a meronym is ‘tool handle’, and an antonym is ‘rubbish’ (‘garbage’).

Difference between the concepts of 'definition' and 'tool' is educative. A 'definition' significantly increases a probability of pertinent realisation irrespective of existence of a 'tool'. On the other hand, the increase of the above probability due to the existence of a 'tool' is much smaller, if not insignificant, in the absence of relevant 'definition' (e.g. instructions on which tool is needed and how it should be used).

A system of definitions constitutes a theory. An assumption that our ambient comprises also something yet to be defined, and/or is difficult to be detected by our senses, allows for generating an infinite number of further assumptions. As long as they do not contradict themselves, they can be combined to create hypotheses.

Assumptions and hypotheses are important, because they present initial approximations needed for generating new definitions and theories.

A complementary way of generating theories is by defining phenomena observed in our ambient.

Our knowledge consists of systems of theories and hypotheses.

Definitions are necessary bits needed to construct and communicate the subject of knowledge. A definition is built by means of its structural components: pieces of information.

Information is built by virtue of its construction elements (signals of various kinds). These signals are combined in various manners; one of most frequently used combinations includes the terms. Terms can be transferred by means of electromagnetic waves, as well as by virtue of other waves, or by means of exploiting a variety of other phenomena at a broad range of scales.

It is worth noting that the information media can be mutually translated, i.e. visual information can be translated into information received by tactile or hearing senses.

An important capacity of concepts and terms — to represent complex information, definition and even the complete theory — can be hindered by ambiguity, homonymy, and synonymy. For example, by saying that a system is ‘adiabatic’, a number of chemo-physical relations are ascribed to this system, assuming that the receiver of this information knows the meaning of the term ‘adiabatic system’ (i.e. assuming availability of a disambiguated definition of this concept).


Spuzic S and Nouwens F (2004) "A Contribution to Defining the Term ‘Definition’", Issues in Informing Science and Information Technology Education, Volume 1 (2004) pp 645 - 662,

Spuzic S, Abhary K, Stevens C, Fabris N, Rice J, Nouwens F (2005) “Contribution to Cross-disciplinary Lexicon” (Editors: D Radcliffe and J Humphries) Proceedings 4th ?ASEE/AaeE Global Colloquium on Engineering Education, Sydney, 26-29 September 2005

Spuzic S, Abhary K, Stevens C, Uzunovic F (2006) “Contribution to Knowledge Management: Cross-disciplinary Terminology”;  the 5th Pan-European Conference on Planning For Minerals and Transport Infrastructure: PEMT'06 - Sarajevo 18-20 May 2006

Spuzic S, Xing K and Abhary K (2008) “Some Aspects of Terminology in Materials Related Knowledge Sharing”, Proceedings 7th International Scientific Symposium: Metallic and Nonmetallic Materials (MNM 2008), 22-23 May 2008; organized by Zenica University and the University of Applied Sciences Gelsenkirchen, Germany

Abhary K, Adriansen H K, Begovac F, Kovacic Z, Shpigelman C N, Stevens C, Spuzic S, Uzunovic F and Xing K "A Contribution to Transparency of Scientific and Engineering Concepts" The International Journal of Knowledge, Culture and Change Management, (2009) Volume 9, Issue 5, pp.93-106.

Abhary K, Adriansen H K, Begovac F, Djukic D, Qin B, Spuzic S, Wood D and Xing K (2009) "Some Basic Aspects of Knowledge" Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, Volume 1, Issue 1, 2009, Pages 1753-1758; presented at the World Conference on Educational Sciences, North Cyprus, 04-07 February, 2009;

Spuzic S, Xing K and Abhary, K (2008) "Some Examples of Ambiguities in Cross-disciplinary Terminology", The International Journal of Technology, Knowledge and Society, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp.19-28;

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