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, in publishing
index, of a book or periodical, a list, nearly always alphabetical, of the topics treated. This list is usually at the back of a book, and the table of contents is in the front. The index seeks to direct the reader to all names and subjects on which the book has information. The subject, with the number of the page on which related information is to be found, is called the entry. In an index to a periodical the entries are less specific, referring usually to an article as a whole rather than to every subject touched upon in each article. Indexing requires experience and skill, since it is necessary not only to grasp the meaning of the author but to phrase that meaning clearly and in such a way as to place it alphabetically where the reader is likely to look first. Books written to give information are of little value unless properly indexed. Indexes to books were made long before the invention of printing. In the 16th cent. the term index began to be commonly applied to such a list; until the 17th cent. the index was rarely alphabetical. Diderot's famous Encyclopédie (1751–1772) had an alphabetical index. In 1848 in the United States a general index to the most widely circulated periodicals of the time was issued by William Frederick Poole. Poole's Index, later compiled cooperatively, continued until 1907, when it was superseded by the Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature. There are special indexes in various fields of knowledge, e.g., law, medicine, art, education, engineering, industrial arts, agriculture. Newspaper indexes include those to the London Times (from 1906) and the New York Times (from 1851). Indexes are increasingly being compiled by computer, and published as on-line databases and in CD-ROM format. The H. W. Wilson and R. R. Bowker companies are noted for special annual indexes, particularly the Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature, the Cumulative Book Index, and Ulrich's International Periodicals Directory. Indexes to illustrations, to artifacts, to formulas, and to various collections of materials are common. Some are alphabetical; others may be by number, color, or some other scheme. The catalog of the books in a library is sometimes known as an index.


See M. D. Anderson, Book Indexing (1971); R. L. Collison, Indexes and Indexing (4th ed. 1972); J. Rowley, Abstracting and Indexing (2d ed. 1988); D. B. and A. D. Cleveland, Introduction to Indexing and Abstracting (2d ed. 1990).


, in the Roman Catholic Church
Index, in the Roman Catholic Church, list of publications forbidden to be read, called Index librorum prohibitorum [list of forbidden books]. This censorship was exercised by the Holy See. Catholics are forbidden, as a natural part of ethics, to read anything they know may endanger their faith or moral life; the Index was a partial guide to such literature. Since it was made up only from decisions referred for judgment on specific works, there was no consistency of inclusion; the failure of a book to appear in it implied nothing. The last edition of the Index was published in 1948. In 1966 the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (formerly, the Holy Office) announced that the Index and its related penalties of excommunication would no longer have the force of law in the church.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2022, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a list of common names, proper names, printed and written works, formulas and symbols, or other items; these items are arranged alphabetically according to subject, chronologically, or numerically. An index provides rapid access to information in a book, journal, or audiovisual source. In terms of content and intended use, there are two principal types of index: bibliographic and auxiliary.

The bibliographic index is a type of bibliographic aid whose entries are generally arranged in systematic order. An important reference source, the bibliographic index generally consists of two parts: a main index—the information file—and a supplementary index, which aids in the retrieval of information not revealed by the grouping of material in the main index. Abroad, main (subject) and supplementary (name) indexes are sometimes combined in an alphabetic, or dictionary, index.

The supplementary index is used as a guide to a given text. It contains a list of systematically arranged entries that name or designate items in the text, see and see also cross-references that link semantically similar but lexically different concepts, and references to page numbers, chapters, paragraphs, and bibliographic entries. An important element of the reference apparatus, the supplementary index is an efficient means of retrieving information and of reading selectively. The supplementary index also provides a concrete idea of the semantic structure of a given work. Supplementary indexes are used in scientific and scholarly publications, bibliographic aids, library catalogs, archive inventories, and collections of audiovisual materials.

There are several types of supplementary indexes. They differ according to content, that is, by using headings representing proper names (personal, geographic, and organizational); subjects; the names of published works or the first lines of poems; citations, abbreviations, symbols, and formulas. Thus, there are indexes of names, subject indexes, indexes of geographic names, and citation indexes. Supplementary indexes also differ according to the manner of grouping the material: there are alphabetic, thematic, classified, and chronological indexes.

The headings of an index may be simple, consisting of a word or phrase, or they may be complex, that is, they may consist of headings and subheadings. Indexes consisting only of simple headings are called blind indexes, and those consisting of complex and simple headings are called expanded, or analytic, indexes. When indexes provide additional information in the form of annotations, direct citations from the text, or definitions, they are called annotated indexes.

An index may be printed as part of a larger work, it may be published separately, or it may be printed on punched or un-punched cards. The type of index or system of indexes used depends on the type of publication, its subject matter, and the intended readership. The reference apparatus of the fifth edition of V. I. Lenin’s Complete Collected Works has an elaborate system of indexes.

With the development of computer technology in the mid-20th century, new types of indexes were used for the retrieval of information. These indexes were generally prepared with the aid of digital computers and were based on the principle of coordinate indexing; they included indexes of cited works, permutation indexes, and coordinate indexes.

Indexes of cited works (bibliographic references) are alphabetized lists of the surnames of authors with the names of their works that have been referred to in a given text. The references also provide brief information on publications in which the works of these authors are cited. A full description of these publications is given in a separate source index. Indexes of cited works are helpful in solving problems of science analysis and forecasting.

The permutation index is a type of auxiliary alphabetic subject index in which significant words in the titles of the indexed documents or in their abstracts function as subject headings. Each such word is entered sequentially in a retrieval column and separated by a space from the other words of the title or abstract that form the context of the subject heading. This type of index is also called an index of key words cited in context. Each entry in the permutation index has an identification number, a full description of which is found in the bibliographic section of the index. Other types of permutation indexes are the double permutation index, in which the key words are used as traditional subject headings; the index of key words cited out of context; and the quasipermutation index, which contains instead of titles sequences of descriptors from the retrieval patterns of documents.

The coordinate, or correlative, index facilitates the correlation of two or more terms that are not necessarily in alphabetical order (as in the subject index) or in a meaningful hierarchical order (as in the thematic index).


Mikhailov, A. I., and R. S. Giliarevskii. Istochniki, poisk i ispol’zovanie nauchnoi informatsii. Moscow, 1970.
Chernyi, A. I. Vvedenie v teoriiu informatsionnogo poiska. Moscow, 1975.
Prizment, E. L., and E. A. Dinershtein. Vspomogatel’nye ukazateli k nauchnoi knige. Moscow, 1975.
Collison, R. L. Indexes and Indexing, 3rd ed. London-New York, 1969.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


(computer science)
A list of record surrogates arranged in order of some attribute expressible in machine-orderable form.
To produce a machine-orderable set of record surrogates, as in indexing a book.
To compute a machine location by indirection, as is done by index registers.
The portion of a computer instruction which indicates what index register (if any) is to be used to modify the address of an instruction.
Unity of a logarithmic scale, as the C scale of a slide rule.
A subscript or superscript used to indicate a specific element of a set or sequence.
The number above and to the left of a radical sign, indicating the root to be extracted.
For a subgroup of a finite group, the order of the group divided by the order of the subgroup.
For a continuous complex-valued function defined on a closed plane curve, the change in the amplitude of the function when traversing the curve in a counterclockwise direction, divided by 2π.
For a quadratic or Hermitian form, the number of terms with positive coefficients when the form is reduced by a linear transformation to a sum of squares or a sum of squares of absolute values.
For a symmetric or Hermitian matrix, the number of positive entries when the matrix is transformed to diagonal form.
A numerical quantity, usually dimensionless, denoting the magnitude of some physical effect, such as the refractive index.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


1. Maths
a. another name for exponent
b. a number or variable placed as a superscript to the left of a radical sign indicating by its value the root to be extracted, as in 3&#221A8 = 2
c. a subscript or superscript to the right of a variable to express a set of variables, as in using xi for x1, x2, x3, etc
2. a number or ratio indicating a specific characteristic, property, etc.
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


(Plural "indices" or "indexes")

1. <programming> A number used to select an element of a list, vector, array or other sequence. Such indices are nearly always non-negative integers but see associative array.

2. <database> See inverted index. 3. <World-Wide Web> A search engine.

4. <World-Wide Web> A subject index.
This article is provided by FOLDOC - Free Online Dictionary of Computing (


(1) See indexed color.

(2) A common method for keeping track of data so that it can be accessed quickly. Like an index in a book, it is a list in which each entry contains the name of the item and its location. However, computer-based indexes may point to a physical location on a disk or to a logical location that points elsewhere to the actual location.

Indexes are used by all types of software, including the operating system, database management system (DBMS) and applications. For example, the file system index in an operating system contains an entry for each file name and the starting location of the file on disk. A database index has an entry for each key field (account number, name, etc.) and the location of the record. Search engines use a very sophisticated indexing system to keep track of billions of pages on the Web.

(3) In programming, a method for accessing data in a table. See subscript and inverted file.

Types of Indexes
Indexes are widely used to keep track of the physical location of files on the disk as well as the logical location of data within a database. On the other hand, a programming index is a counter that is incremented to point to a relative location in a table.
Copyright © 1981-2019 by The Computer Language Company Inc. All Rights reserved. THIS DEFINITION IS FOR PERSONAL USE ONLY. All other reproduction is strictly prohibited without permission from the publisher.
References in periodicals archive ?
The Circulation study did not suggest a cause of the link between low cardiac index and greater risk for dementia, but the researchers believe a slow process that occurs over decades may produce the harmful effects.
Stroke volume index and cardiac index throughout the treatment period and postoperative oxygen delivery were improved for patients in the LiDCO group.
The participants who had the lowest cardiac index, or the least amount of blood pumping from the heart for their body size, showed almost two years more brain aging than the people with the highest cardiac index.
In a post hoc analysis, the researchers compared cardiac index tertiles and changes in brain volume.
Henning, Wiener, Valdes, and Weil (1979) found the temperature gradient served as a more predictable indicator of survival than either invasive arterial BP or cardiac index. A similar study also evaluated measured toe temperature as compared to ambient room temperature in adults with septic shock.
Clinical trials have consistently demonstrated that partial correction of anemia leads to improvements in the cardiac index and oxygen transport that can arrest or reverse LVH progression (Table 2).
-- An increase in cardiac index, a measure of how much blood the heart is putting into circulation for the body's organs (secondary endpoint).
To improve the CPP, the mean arterial pressure (MAP) is elevated by increasing the cardiac index and decreasing the systemic vascular resistance.[24]
I believe that the entire package, which includes physiologic computations such as cardiac index, anion gaps, and creatinine clearance, would be helpful to house staff and physicians who carry hand-held calculators in their coat pockets for situations during rounds when such calculations are needed.
Cardiac index, stroke volume index, stroke volume variation (SVV), and pulse pressure variation (PPV) were all maintained at normal limits prior to HIPEC [11].
At 45-degree head up position, the heart rate increased by 18 bpm, cardiopulmonary volume fraction decreased by 34% (a marked decrease), cardiac index decreased from 2.6L/min/[m.sup.2] to 1.777 L/min/[m.sup.2], stroke volume decreased from 79 ml to 50 ml, total peripheral resistance increased from 40 to 61 [micro][m.sup.2], and mean pulmonary transit time was rapid at 6.8 seconds.