Shakespeare may have said that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but the bard was probably not an information management professional. In the data world, having more than one name for a specific thing introduces confusion and possibly a conceptual problem with uniqueness and referential integrity because the same character string may be used to refer to more than one object, and one object may have many character strings as handles. This month, we'll start to look at approaches to managing what we could call "naming meta data."

When deciding what color to paint an exterior wall, there is a significant difference between red, crimson and orange red. However, replace one of these shades with another in a traffic light, and people will still stop when that color is lit. It is the context and the application that dictate whether those name strings represent two separate objects or just one. While people can discern both the similarity and distinction between two things (despite the words we use to refer to those things), computers have a more difficult time making the distinction.

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