A Taxonomy of Knowledge

A taxonomy is a framework for organizing knowledge. They are usually designed with a range of top level categories that are selected with the intent of being able to absorb most new knowledge within the scope limits of the taxonomy. It’s an outline that attempts to anticipate future needs by creating a master set of top level categories.

One commonly known taxonomy is the Dewey Decimal system used to categorize books in a library. The Dewey system uses ten main categories:

  • 000 Computer science, information & general works
  • 100 Philosophy & psychology
  • 200 Religion
  • 300 Social sciences
  • 400 Language
  • 500 Science
  • 600 Technology
  • 700 Arts & recreation
  • 800 Literature
  • 900 History & geography

Each of these ten main classes is then divided into ten sub-classes and each of those in turn is divided until the class numbers reach the single digit level. Example – 500 is the Science class. 510 is the Mathematics class. 516 is the Geometry class. Geometry can be further divided by using decimal fractions: 516.1, 516.2, 516.3 or even 516.123 and so on.

A key part of intelligence is the accumulation of knowledge and storing it in way that makes it easily accessible, easy to understand and easy to combine in new ways. A well designed taxonomy is important. A taxonomy designed to file and find books in a library may not be the best form to use for other purposes.