A dimension (from Latin "measured out") is the magnitude of a category. In data analysis, dimensions are variables of categories such as space, time and mass. Time is a category, while, for example, year, month, week and day represent different parts of the time dimension (and thus belong to the same category of information). 


"Dimension: (scientific) 1. Any linear series or order of elements. 2. Any quantity of a given kind, capable of increase or decrease over a certain range, a variable. 3. In the physical system: mass, length and time".  (Benjamin, 1942).



Sometimes, for example in psychology, it may be difficult to tell whether concepts belong to different categories or just different to different points in a dimension? Is neuroses, for example, another category that psychosis, or is it just another point in the same dimension? (Cf., De Boeck; Wilson & Acton, 2005).







De Boeck, P.; Wilson, M. & Acton, G. S. (2005). A Conceptual and Psychometric Framework for Distinguishing Categories and Dimensions. Psychological Review, 112, 129-158. Available at: http://www.personalityresearch.org/acton/dimcat.html  PDF: http://www.personalityresearch.org/acton/dimcat.pdf


Benjamin, A. C. (1942). Dimension. IN: Dagobert D. Runes (Ed.): Dictionary of Philosophy). Edited in hypertext by Andrew Chrucky, 2004. http://www.ditext.com/runes/index.html



See also: Category (Epistemological lifeboat).



Birger Hjørland

Last edited: 28-05-2006