Sunday, July 6, 2014

The origin of the connection table

I've been trying to understand the origin of the connection table, and the origin of the term "connection table." The full details are in my essay "The origin of the connection table."

My investigations lead me to believe that Calvin Mooers in 1951 described the first practical connection table, which was used by many people in the 1950s and 1960s. In the mid-1990s, people started saying that George Wheland in 1949 was the first to describe the connection table. I investigated that earlier claim. Wheland's text book does not describe a practical connection table for general purpose use, nor was the proposal suggested for use by a computer. Wheland brought it up to emphasize that nongeometrical representations were equally as descriptive as diagrams, but did not believe that the connection matrix was of practical use.

I then tried to figure out why people say that Wheland is the creator of the connection table, but that's unresolved.

Finally, I tried to figure out when the term "connection table" was coined. It appears to be 1963, from people working at or affiliated with Chemical Abstracts, and perhaps due to influences from electrical engineering.

If you have comments about that essay, leave them here.

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