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Notion of Shape

This blog entry builds upon this blog entry which articulates the idea of an interactive information hypercube.

If you look at this interactive information hypercube viewer, flipping through the different hypercubes listed on the left hand side, you will notice that the different hypercubes have different "shapes".

What I mean by shape is the dimensions which the hypercube uses.  Look at the columns of each graphic and you will note that they are different.

If you look at, say, a financial statement, you will notice as I mentioned in the blog entry at the beginning of this blog entry, that statement can be broken down into a number of different hypercubes.  Each of those hypercubes have different shapes.  This is another way of saying that a financial statement could not be expressed by only one hypercube.

Another example will make this even more clear.  Take a look at this Excel spreadsheet. (It is a ZIP file containing a spreadsheet actually)  The spreadsheet is a collection of Excel pivot tables.  There are two sheets for each pivot table.  One sheet contains data for the pivot table, the other contains the actual pivot table.  Each pivot table is equivalent to a hypercube.  If you go through the different sheets you will begin to see that the dimensions of the information are different.  It could be the case that a number of the columns are the same, but remember that another dimension at play here are the primary items or the line items of the hypercube.  These are the rows of the spreadsheet.

You can see this even more clearly if you take a look at this example financial statement and then you compare that to this PDF which basically takes the pivot tables from the Excel sheet above and lays them out in the same order of the "paper" financial statement.  The information is the same, the presentation is a little different as I tried to get the Excel pivot tables to represent the information from the financial statement as best as I could and as similar to the "paper" format as possible.

Again, the point here is that a financial statement is comprised of a number of hypercubes and those hypercubes have different shapes.

The next point which I will make is that of flow.  I will go into that in my next blog entry.

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