RFC 242 (rfc242) - Page 1 of 10

Data Descriptive Language for Shared Data

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RFC 242
NIC 7672
Categories: D.4, D.7


                                L. Haibt
                               A. Mullery

                    Thomas J. Watson Research Center
                         Yorktown Heights, N.Y.

                             July 19, 1971


    A primary consequence of the use of networks of computers is the
demand for more efficient shared use of data.

    Many of the impedements to easy shared data follow from the many
diverse ways of representing and making reference to the same data.
Almost all of these problems have been known before data was shared
through computer networks, but the network facility has simply
emphasized the problems.

    For convenience of discussion, representation differences will be
classified in three categories. The first category is one of very local
representation - the bit patterns for the character set, for fixed point
and floating point numbers. These differences are usually imposed by
differences in CPU's and storage devices. Translations from one
representation to another at another at this level can usually be made a
unit at a time (e.g. computer word by computer word) with the most
serious problems occurring when there are some values in one
representation scheme which have no corresponding meaning in the other
representation scheme, as, for expamble, when trying to translate
eight-bit bytes to six-bit bytes.

    A second category of differences has to do with the representation
of collections of data, e.g., their size, ordering and location.

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