abstraction

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abstraction

1. Logic an operator that forms a class name or predicate from any given expression
2. an abstract painting, sculpture, etc.

Abstraction

The omission or severe simplification of details in a drawing, leaving only massing, form and solids, so that the basis of the design can be explained.

Abstraction

 

(1) A method of scientific investigation based on disregard for the nonessential facets and signs of the phenomenon or process under investigation. This method makes it possible to simplify the representation of the phenomenon under investigation and to examine it in its “pure form,’1 as it were.

(2) A product of cognition—such as a concept, a description, a law, a model, an ideal object—examined in juxtaposition with concrete, empirical reality, which in this product is not fixed in all its wealth of traits and interconnections.

(3) Cognitive activity with the aim of obtaining an abstraction—the process of abstraction.

The use of abstraction, as with any other method of investigation, is determined by the type of situation faced by the researcher and by the range of procedures that are necessary or possible in a given situation. A situation is characterized by the task (the goal characteristic of the method) and by the specifics of the subject under investigation (ontological characteristics). From the point of view of ontology, abstraction assumes a relative independence of phenomena and of their aspects and involves separation of essential and nonessential aspects. As a rule, the procedures of abstraction consist in the restructuring of the subject under investigation and the substitution for it of another object that is equivalent to it from the point of view of the given situation. The restructuring relates either to the representation of the object under investigation (rejection of nonessential aspects), to the empirical material, or to the program of observation and description (rejection of superfluous information). For instance, the geometrical properties of an electrical series do not depend on the components of a branch, such as resistance, inductance, or capacitance. Therefore, in the topological study of series, all the branches are usually replaced by sections which represent the network as a linear graph.

The goal characteristic of abstraction may differ, but in all cases it is linked to certain cognitive tasks and to the inclusion of abstraction in a broader framework of cognitive activity. In fact, the classification of types of abstraction is based on the distinction of goal characteristics: isolating abstraction aims at the articulation and clear delineation of the phenomenon under investigation; generalizing abstraction aims at obtaining an overall representation of the phenomenon; an idealization aims at replacing an actual empirical situation with an idealized schema, such as absolute solid in mechanics, with a view to simplification of the situation under investigation and more effective utilization of existing methods and means of investigation.

The realization of abstraction as a method involves two types of operation. The first is the elucidation of the possibility and advisability of substitution or restructuring of the object under investigation; the second is the process of substitution itself. The products of this process are properly modified representations of the subject, models, selected empirical material, and so on.

The simplest form of abstraction is the practical substitution of one object for another. In this form abstraction takes place even among animals; in particular, it is the basis for the development of conditioned reflexes. In humans such practical substitution is expressed by and centers on words in action with symbols. Ideas about essential and nonessential aspects of phenomena and about dependence relationships are formed. The realization of the specifics of symbol formations and of their relations to reality, to tasks, and to goals occurs at the same time. Such a realization is quite clearly visible in Aristotle (see, for example, Metafizika, Moscow-Leningrad, 1934, pp. 129–130).

The method of abstraction itself appears at a high level of cognitive development. Therefore, we should distinguish the historical process of formation of those products of cognitive activity which are now characterized as abstraction from the processes of abstraction in its modern form. In the former case the abstractness of the products of cognition themselves was not the result of any special purposeful procedure of abstraction; rather, it was the final result of human activity. In the development of science in the past, models such as the physical point or the ideal gas were usually considered the final phase in the construction of a theoretical concept; this phase involved the justification of the concept and the definition of the limits of its applicability. On the other hand, abstraction as a specialized procedure is distinguished and takes shape in cognition only on the basis of a theoretical construction. When the modern researcher uses this procedure, he often sets himself from the very beginning the task of simplifying the phenomenon under investigation and of constructing an abstract, idealized model of it; idealization here is the point of departure for the construction of a theory. In view of this, abstraction as a method arises as a result of a theoretical realization of the character of the course of the historical process of cognition, which is considered as the process of obtaining abstraction.

REFERENCES

Gorskii, D. P. Voprosy abstraktsii i obrazovanie poniatii. Moscow, 1961.
Logika nauchnogo issledovaniia. Moscow, 1965.
Rozov, M. A. Nauchnaia abstraktsiia i ee vidy. Novosibirsk, 1965.

M. A. ROZOV

abstraction

[ab′strak·shən]
(hydrology)
The draining of water from a stream by another having more rapid corroding action.
The part of precipitation that does not become direct runoff.

abstraction

(1)
Generalisation; ignoring or hiding details to capture some kind of commonality between different instances. Examples are abstract data types (the representation details are hidden), abstract syntax (the details of the concrete syntax are ignored), abstract interpretation (details are ignored to analyse specific properties).

abstraction

(programming)
Parameterisation, making something a function of something else. Examples are lambda abstractions (making a term into a function of some variable), higher-order functions (parameters are functions), bracket abstraction (making a term into a function of a variable).

Opposite of concretisation.

abstraction

In object technology, determining the essential characteristics of an object. Abstraction is one of the basic principles of object-oriented design, which allows for creating user-defined data types, known as objects. See object-oriented programming and encapsulation.
References in periodicals archive ?
35) Gundissalinus, De divisione, 98-100: "Genus autem huius artis est, quod ipsa est abstracta et sine motu.
Lejos de sustentar la percepcion de la moral femenina como una categoria esencial, atemporal y abstracta, el proceso de la seduccion representado en este cuento devela como la conducta etica asumida por la viudita se articula como una posicion altamente mediatizada por las circunstancias economicas y las reglamentaciones juridicas en las que le corresponde vivir a este personaje.
Hartry Field has shown us a way to be nominalists: we must purge our scientific theories of quantification over abstracta and we must prove the appropriate conservativeness results.
En los anos posteriores a la Segunda Guerra Mundial, paso a ser propiedad del sicoanalista Jacques Lacan quien mando construir una suerte de diptico o doble pintura; un artefacto de madera cuya funcion era esconder el erotico desnudo de Courbet al sobreponer sobre este un segundo cuadro que representaba en forma abstracta los elementos del primero.
21) Casalduero ha apuntado que la vision popular que tiene de las estrellas Sancho en esta aventura (sin olvidar el desconocimiento del escudero de algunos de los tecnicismos pertenecientes al campo de la cosmografia) debe compararse con la vision abstracta, producto de sus lecturas, de la que hace alarde don Quijote en el episodio del barco encantado (297).
After all, it is not as though the only compelling objection against the correspondence theorist is that he cannot spell out the mechanics of reference to abstracta or morons or what have you.
Asi, podemos decir que mientras que la tipificacion del musulman se presenta como respuesta a una amenaza en principio real, su poder belico, el cual implicaba un impedimento a la expansion cristiana en la Peninsula, la alteridad del judio dentro de la ideologia imperio-teologica iberica debe ser considerada mas abstracta, como construccion de un sistema simbolico cuyo discurso se sustenta en la exclusion y la aniquilacion de lo considerado foraneo e inadmisible para la mayoria.
It would be ironic to say the least if Putnam, given his rejection of "Aristotelian metaphysical fantasies," (44) fell back upon natural kinds conceived of as Platonist abstracta out there.
Menos frecuentes son los criterios de indole propiamente abstracta, como el que quiero aplicar aqui al comentario de algunos cuentos latinoamericanos con el fin de mostrar el registro de tal fenomeno en la narrativa breve del subcontinente y apuntar asi algunas manifestaciones literarias de ese proceso sociologico.
Ex hoc finaliter infertur quod cum species (et similitudo) Sortis fuerit apud intellectum et fuerit abstracta a speciebus extraneorum, illa non magis erit repraesentatio Sortis quam Platonis et aliorum hominum; nec intellectus per eam magis intelliget Sortem quam alios homines.