View Full Version : Re: Labelling of coordinate axes

Young Hui Chang
09-29-1995, 01:07 AM
dear all,

i have personally been dealing with this issue (trying to describe
locomotion without any protocol for axes standardization). i may be jumping
into this discussion a little late but here is one student's opinion: it
seems that there ARE conventions that are used regularly which we are not

those of us analyzing gait look at the "fore-aft, lateral and vertical"
axes of an animal's movement. those describing an animal's anatomy have a
plethora of descriptors to communicate directionality (e.g., "superior,
inferior, cranial, caudal, etc."). in this sense, "x, y, & z" seem
meaningless without the previously mentioned descriptors to give them
meaning. for us to conventionalize what the "x-axis" is seems redundant
when we can simply say it is the "lateral axis" or the "vertical axis."
coming from a physics-based background, i have my own conventions which may
or may not agree with others (as i have noted from reading the comments
thus far). although we can argue until we're blue in the face about what
the "z-axis" is, everyone knows what "vertical" means.

are we adding unnecessary steps in the process of communicating ideas? why
not simply use our own conventions of x,y,z for simplicity (since we all
come from a variety of backgrounds) and then report to others on the basis
of practical terminology ("the vertical component of force reaction" as
opposed to the "x/y/z-component" seems much more informative and

the bottom line is that whenever we try to communicate ideas, it is
important that the communicator takes into account the person(s) with whom
they are trying to communicate. clearly defined and labeled data is easily
understood whatever the convention used.

Young Hui

Young Hui Chang, Graduate Student
Department of Anatomy phone: 607-253-3551
College of Veterinary Medicine fax: 607-253-3541
Ithaca, NY 14853-6401 e-mail: (yhc3@cornell.edu)