Your word for the day - Orthogonal


Matt Cutts used this word during his webmasterradio chat (here's the MP3), but, being too lazy to go back and listen again, I can't remember exactly where - during the Big Daddy rollout part, I think. He then went on to mention it on his Big Daddy blog post, this time in relation to PR updates.

On the latest WMW Datacentre-thon thread - msg #100, member colin_h goes off and does what I'm too lazy to do - trying to find definitions - and then speculates on how it might all apply to the new infrastructure that Big Daddy is ushering in (along with the kewl new things that G will be able to do off the back of said change, as talked about by Matt when covering BigDaddy with Oilman and Webguerrilla). So, there you have it, Orthogonal.


trying to find definitions

what I'm too lazy to do - trying to find definitions

Definition for Orthogonal

Excuse the pun but that word

Excuse the pun but that word seems orthogonal to the DigBaddy discussion.

Sorry, "big daddy" it was...

He using "orthogonal"

..more just as meaning "nothing to do with", rather than trying to ascribe the mathmatical meaning to it !

Odd people mathmaticians, they think everyone uses words like "orthogonal" over a pint of beer.

Goog will answer it for

Xooglers says this is popular around the Googleplex...

Engineers are always talking about things being orthogonal to each other. The first time I heard the term, I thought it meant something like “11-sided.” It doesn’t. I’ve read the definition many times. I still don’t really get it, which didn’t stop me from casually dropping it into conversations with engineers. “Oh, yeah, that press release is totally orthogonal to the ads we’re running on Yahoo.”

Sounds like using the word 'unrelated' would just come off as being not smart enough or something.


Orthogonal in math means that two lines (or vectors or whatever) are at right angles. In non-math, it's taken to mean that two things don't affect each other, i.e. they're independent.

I'll use it in a sentence: supplemental results are orthogonal to BigDaddy. That says that the two are different systems, and changes in one won't affect the other.

Tomorrow's word: (let's mine the world of physics this time) hysteresis. :)

P.S. Doug@Xooglers is right;

P.S. Doug@Xooglers is right; we probably use orthogonal and canonical and words like that more than we need to. You'll notice in the MP3 that I said "orthogonal" and then backed it up with "independent" so it wouldn't be off-the-charts egghead.

Never use a large word when

Never use a large word when a diminutive one will suffice. ;)

Hysteresis in a sentence

DigitalGhost's quip about large words was just hysteresis. I spit out my coffee.

Back in film school, we used to use "diagesis" and "mimesis" in every sentence.

Orthogonal and BigDaddy


In your blog you said that PR was Orthogonal to BigDaddy if I understand it correctly.

But surely PR is a result of crawling activity and the calculation of BL and other factors from this crawl and BigDaddy has seperate crawling behaviour to normal DCs.

So the PR update that due - eg after BigDaddy roll out or something would be dependent on the BD crawling infastructure ?

Oh well - learnt a new word anyway :)


Never use a large word when a diminutive one will suffice. ;)

OH my god! That is a classic! Thank you for my belly laugh of hte day Dean.

Tomorrow's word: hysteresis


You could do with dropping "entropy" in the discussion as well.

The Second Law, is no doubt built into the Google algo. Some might even believe the Google algo is based on the Second Law.

I prefer Newton's second

I prefer Newton's second law.

The second law states that the acceleration of an object is dependent upon two variables - the net force acting upon the object and the mass of the object. ;)


I think maybe the lines example above was a bit off. There needs to be a plane involved ;-)

Anyway I think the reason engineers often overuse the word orthogonal (and non-engineers copy them by further mis-using the word orthogonal) is because orthogonality can be a lot of fun when solving matematical problems. It is the property of "orthogonality" that makes large, complex problems fall apart (through cancellations and such) and become "solvable" problems. Sometimes, they even become "trivial" problems.

There are many, many problems that cannot be solved, unless one finds some assumptions or accepts some compromises such that orthogonality (as an example) is achieved. It is a prize in commercial environments (versus academic ones) because engineers really can't spend all day on unsolved problems.... the company needs to make money ;-)

As for the common use, WordNet (my favorite word site) gets it right as usual. "not pertinent to the matter under consideration", "statistically unrelated", etc.

This orthogonal stuff is much less annoying than the use of canonical. That's just a butcher job.

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