Multidimensional classification (Multifaceted classification)

Multidimensionality has been used in a number of different ways in the literature. Nistrup Madsen, Erdman Thomsen & Vikner (2005) provide an overview of definitions in the literature of terminology. 


In library classification systems designed for shelving purposes have to be linear or one-dimensional. As long as systems such as the Dewey Decimal Classification are designed to serve both information retrieval in catalogs as well as shelving purposes, they have to be one dimensional. This puts major constrains on such systems, which probably means that multidimensional systems are much more efficient for retrieval purposes. See the quote from Ziman (1985) in the entry atlas of science about the importance of multidimensional classifications. Examples of two-dimensional systems are many published bibliometric maps (cf., Bibliometric Knowledge Organization).  "Traditional approaches" to knowledge organization have mainly been linear. However, if a library have separate catalogs for different facets of subjects (such as time and place) a kind of multidimensional structure is introduced. This is the case with UASK in the Royal Library, Denmark.







Bowker, L. 1996. “Multidimensional classification as an aid to increased subject field understanding and improved quality technical translation.” In Lewandowska Tomaszczyk, B. and M. Thelen (eds.). Translation and Meaning, Part 4. 431–442. Maastricht: Universitaire Pers Maastricht.

Bowker, L. 1997. “Multidimensional classification of concepts and terms.” In Wright, S. E. and G. Budin (eds). Handbook of Terminology Management. Vol. I. 133–143. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.


Kageura, K. 1997. “Multifaceted/multidimensional concept systems.” In: Wright, S. E. and G. Budin (eds). Handbook of Terminology Management. Vol. I. 119–132. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.


Nistrup Madsen, B.; Erdman Thomsen, H. & Vikner, C. (2005). Multidimensionality in Terminological Concept Modelling.  In: Madsen, Bodil Nistrup & Hanne Erdman Thomsen (eds.): Terminology and content development. Copenhagen: Litera.  (Pp. 161-173).    pdf


Rogers, M. (2004). Multidimensionality in concepts systems Terminology. A bilingual textual perspective. Terminology, 10(2), 215–240.

Ziman, J. M. (1985). Pushing back frontiers - or redrawing maps!
IN: Hägerstrand, T. (Ed.) The identification of progress in learning, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (Pp. 1-12).



Birger Hjørland

Last edited: 19-09-2006