From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
"splitters make very small units – their critics say that if they can tell two animals apart, they place them in different genera … and if they cannot tell them apart, they place them in different species. … Lumpers make large units – their critics say that if a carnivore is neither a dog nor a bear, they call it a cat."--"The Principles of Classification and a Classification of Mammals" (1945) George G. Simpson
Categorization is the ability and activity of recognizing shared features or similarities between the elements of the experience of the world (such as objects, events, or ideas), organizing and classifying experience by associating them to a more abstract group (that is, a category, class, or type), on the basis of their traits, features, similarities or other criteria that are universal to the group. Categorization is considered one of the most fundamental cognitive abilities, and as such it is studied particularly by psychology and cognitive linguistics.
Categorization is sometimes considered synonymous with classification (cf., Classification synonyms). Categorization and classification allow humans to organize things, objects, and ideas that exist around them and simplify their understanding of the world. Categorization is something that humans and other organisms do: "doing the right thing with the right kind of thing." The activity of categorizing things can be nonverbal or verbal. For humans, both concrete objects and abstract ideas are recognized, differentiated, and understood through categorization. Objects are usually categorized for some adaptive or pragmatic purposes.
Categorization is grounded in the features that distinguish the category's members from nonmembers. Categorization is important in learning, prediction, inference, decision making, language, and many forms of organisms' interaction with their environments.
- Categorical perception
- Classification (general theory)
- Library classification
- Multi-label classification
- Pattern recognition
- Statistical classification
- Symbol grounding problem
- Characterization (mathematics)