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jfinlay52
06-14-1994, 03:41 AM
Paolo's question about "Normalization" highlights a common problem
that we have with communications. This problem arises from peoples'
(our) tendency to talk and write using abbreviated phrases. Such
phrases may have appropriately implied meanings ONLY among those
individuals who are accustomed to them and, even then, only when
the phrases are encountered in a clearly-defined context.

This problem is well-reflected in the statement:

I PUT THE COFFEE IN THE MICROWAVE

Without discussing any of the POSSIBLE meanings (Stupid, theoretical,
practical, or otherwise), suffice it to say that the probable
information intended to be conveyed by this statement is:

I PUT THE CUP/MUG OF COFFEE IN THE MICROWAVE OVEN

and we can still debate whether the coffee was in solution or not!


NORMALIZED DATA:

In terms of "Normalized Data", any potential problem should be avoided
by speaking or writing the complete implied phrase (using Reference
citations, if necessary):

THE PROBABILITY DISTRIBUTION OF the data was normalized by...

or

THE MAGNITUDES OF the data were normalized by...

In the first statement, "normalized" actually implies that the
Probability Distribution curve was converted to that of a statistically-
defined "Normal" curve and, for this statement to be properly understood
in a manuscript, it would be appropriate to cite a reference to a
textbook in Statistics.

Once this procedure of normalization has been established in the
conversation or manuscript, then an "abbreviated" reference to
"normalization" might be warranted.

Few, if any, reports of biomechanical data can be presented
meaningfully without the use of statistics. Consequently, as
Biomechanicians, we should be particularly attuned to this problem.
As participants in the multi-disciplinary field of Biomechanics
(Biology, with its coverage of both plants and animals, involves
Human Biology as only one small element of its activities), our
communications should be such as to minimize these potential
misunderstandings - i.e. rather than trying to justify the use of
ambiguous phrases based upon interpretations used within our own
limited circle-of-colleagues or discipline - e.g. fluid mechanics,
etc.

I hope this personal impression of the problem will help in the
ensuing discussion.




Best wishes:

Bryan Finlay, PhD 519-663-3063
Director of Orthopaedic Research 519-663-3904 FAX
University Hospital
P.O. Box 5339
London, Ontario, CANADA, N6A 5A5