Digital Tools Glossary

Digital Tools Glossary

Most specialist terms are explained the first time they occur, but here are a few which are only mentioned in passing:

Browse the glossary using this index

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Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LDA)

Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LDA) an algorithm that clusters topics on the basis of probability (using the Dirichlet distribution)

list comprehension

list comprehension a compact, readable syntax provided by Python for creating lists



markup embedded annotations to a text which provide instructions on how elements of it should  be presented, structured or interpreted


metadata data that describes other data; the file properties given in an operating system, such as when the file was created, modified, and so on, are a basic form of metadata



Nest  an element that opens and closes inside another element (its parent) is nested within it, so date is nested within lang here:  <lang name=”Latin”>Sepultus erat <date value=”3-10-1609”>tertio die Octobris</date></lang>


node an element in a data structure which is linked to other nodes, often hierarchically as in a tree diagram


object serialisation

object serialisation the conversion of a complex data structure into a series of bytes

Opening tag

Opening tag the first part of an element, bounded by angle brackets, eg <p>



Parent the immediate ancestor element of another element


Parse to read the structure of an XML document, element by element; any XML-aware software needs to parse the document before acting upon it

Parsed character data

Parsed character data text that is read by the XML editor or other software; this means that any characters which are part of XML syntax, such as & or < will need to be rendered as entities if they are to be represented literally 

Plain text

Plain text:  text without any markup. Note that text in word processors, such as Word, does have markup – you just can’t see it.

Processing instruction

Processing instruction an element that takes the form <? … ?>, which calls upon software to act – for example by referring to another file, such as a stylesheet



Quantifier a symbol specifying how many in a DTD: ? = none or one; + = one or many; * = none, one or many.



RelaxNG an alternative rules file format to a DTD or XML Schema; although we don’t cover it in this course there is plenty of information about it on the web.

Root element

Root element everything in an XML file, apart from the declaration and other header information, must go inside one element which wraps all other elements

Rules file

Rules file a generic term for a DTD, XML Schema or other format specifying the rules of an XML document

Running text

Running text text in paragraphs or other long units of narrative, as opposed to text in tables, lists, headings etc.


scripting language

scripting language a programming language that does not need to be compiled before it is run

stop word

stop word an instruction to ignore a word when analysing text, creating indexes, etc

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