Long string to short ID

Lloyd R. Prentice lloyd@REDACTED
Sat Aug 14 18:05:27 CEST 2021

Hi Michael,

You hint at an interesting line of thought:

The question is, why does “My Long and Fascinating Book Title” feel like such an awkward and inefficient ID in a computer application focusing on books? After all, it is perfectly fine as a signifier of the physical or electronic object in human discourse.

So why is it more awkward and inefficient than “ygjre3*)7x?” when used as an ID in computer code? After all, it would in some sense make the code more readable to humans.

Unless I’m missing something, it seems that it’s only more inefficient in the sense that it consumes more memory in RAM and persistent storage and, arguably, processing of the string itself.

So, we program some kind of translation layer that associates “My Long and Fascinating Book Title” with “ygjre3*)7x?” — a proplist or some such. Now humans get to consume the literal title and the machine gets the weird, presumably more efficient, string.

The question then becomes, how much memory does the translation layer consume and how much latency is involved in the translation process? In other words, how many book titles have to be entered into the system before the costs of the translation layer are amortized?

At this point my head hurts, but it seems that there is some application specific number N where less than N books justifies using the book title itself as the ID.

Am I missing something?

All the best,


Sent from my iPad

> On Aug 14, 2021, at 10:12 AM, Michael P. <empro2@REDACTED> wrote:
> On Fri, 13 Aug 2021 15:44:29 -0400
> "Lloyd R. Prentice" <lloyd@REDACTED> wrote:
>> What might be a nifty way to turn a long book title with spaces into a short human-readable ID?
> Two observations:
> Anything too nifty will, sooner or later, put a hole in one's foot.
> Keeping the beginning helps evoke a context in one's mind in which
> a following, nifty brixngnaxl may be meaningfully interpreted.
> Examples:
>    $ ls
>    verse.tex    verseses.tex
> I do not remember what I meant "verseses" to mean. (sounds Gollumic ...)
> Here I have obviously niftied myself in the foot.
>    $ ls fertig
>    aquestionofmust.tex    hinterdg.tex
> Simple omission of space (and no capitals).
> + kept head and acronymic tail: hinterdg -> Hinter den Grenzen
> But it all depends on what ID means here
> and what is considered "human-readable".
> And why the title is no human-readable ID,
> and why a human needs to read any other ID,
> why the machine cannot map any kind of ID
> to the title for the human.
>> focus on two most significant words in the title
> Significance depends on context even in a single human being;
> and context depends on time and all the rest of the "situation".
> See the foot-holing example above.
> Automating "significance" might require one to wait until
> androids do not dream of electric sheep anymore ...
> ~M
> --
> Curiosity killed the cat --
> by simply using up its time.

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