logical computing dictionary

(From the technical term "logical device", wherein a physical device is referred to by an arbitrary "logical" name) Having the role of. If a person (say, Les Earnest at SAIL) who had long held a certain post left and were replaced, the replacement would for a while be known as the "logical" Les Earnest. (This does not imply any judgment on the replacement).

Compare: virtual.

At Stanford, "logical" compass directions denote a coordinate system in which "logical north" is toward San Francisco, "logical west" is toward the ocean, etc., even though logical north varies between physical (true) north near San Francisco and physical west near San Jose. (The best rule of thumb here is that, by definition, El Camino Real always runs logical north-and-south.) In giving directions, one might say: "To get to Rincon Tarasco restaurant, get onto El Camino Bignum going logical north." Using the word "logical" helps to prevent the recipient from worrying about that the fact that the sun is setting almost directly in front of him. The concept is reinforced by North American highways which are almost, but not quite, consistently labelled with logical rather than physical directions.

A similar situation exists at MIT: Route 128 (famous for the electronics industry that has grown up along it) is a 3-quarters circle surrounding Boston at a radius of 10 miles, terminating near the coastline at each end. It would be most precise to describe the two directions along this highway as "clockwise" and "counterclockwise", but the road signs all say "north" and "south", respectively. A hacker might describe these directions as "logical north" and "logical south", to indicate that they are conventional directions not corresponding to the usual denotation for those words. (If you went logical south along the entire length of route 128, you would start out going northwest, curve around to the south, and finish headed due east, passing along one infamous stretch of pavement that is simultaneously route 128 south and Interstate 93 north, and is signed as such!)

(01 Jan 1995)

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