Ambiguous Question Interpretation

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Hi,

I was recently given the following question in a post graduate (Masters) module, punctuation and emphasis quoted verbatim:

"Get cid values of customers who make orders only through agent a03 and a05."

The question is ambiguous and I obvioulsy chose a different interpretation to that of the instructor, hence the reason for this post. My question is, is there a particular interpretation that stands out and if so what is it?

Thanks,

Aaron
 

MikeNewYork

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azaII said:
Hi,

I was recently given the following question in a post graduate (Masters) module, punctuation and emphasis quoted verbatim:

"Get cid values of customers who make orders only through agent a03 and a05."

The question is ambiguous and I obvioulsy chose a different interpretation to that of the instructor, hence the reason for this post. My question is, is there a particular interpretation that stands out and if so what is it?

Thanks,

Aaron

I don't know what "cid values" are. Assuming that they represent some information on clients, The sentence is a request/command to find that information about all customers who make orders through two particular agents and who never make orders through anyone else.

I don't find the sentence to be ambiguous except for "cid".
 
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Resaw

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azaII said:
"Get cid values of customers who make orders only through agent a03 and a05."

The question is ambiguous ...

Hi Aaron. I am not a teacher, but I am also a student at the Masters level. I will let you know what I think, then leave the official response to those wiser people who manage this forum.

I would have interpreted this instruction to mean that you must select the cid values of customers whose orders are made through both of the specified agents (a03 and a05), and with the exclusion of all other agents. In other words, this instruction has an 'AND' operator, not an 'OR' operator for agents a03 and a05, and must exclude all other agents (e.g., a02, a04, a06, etc.).
 

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Resaw said:
I would have interpreted this instruction to mean that you must select the cid values of customers whose orders are made through both of the specified agents (a03 and a05), and with the exclusion of all other agents. In other words, this instruction has an 'AND' operator, not an 'OR' operator for agents a03 and a05, and must exclude all other agents (e.g., a02, a04, a06, etc.).

I agree that it excludes all other agents. However, if you add the word "both", then only orders made through both of them at the same time would be included.
 
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Resaw

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A Clarification Please

Hello Mike, and thanks for your remarks. I am interested in, and would appreciate a clarification of, your comment related to the word "both" in your posting. I certainly agree that inclusion of the word "both" provides abundant confirmation to the word "and" in the original posting (see quote below), but I feel that the word "and" stands on its own merits to establish that the two agents, a03 and a05, are two parts of set, and that they cannot be read separately (as they would be in "a03 or a05").


"Get cid values of customers who make orders only through agent a03 and a05."
 

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Re: A Clarification Please

Resaw said:
Hello Mike, and thanks for your remarks. I am interested in, and would appreciate a clarification of, your comment related to the word "both" in your posting. I certainly agree that inclusion of the word "both" provides abundant confirmation to the word "and" in the original posting (see quote below), but I feel that the word "and" stands on its own merits to establish that the two agents, a03 and a05, are two parts of set, and that they cannot be read separately (as they would be in "a03 or a05").


"Get cid values of customers who make orders only through agent a03 and a05."

I don't agree that the two agents are treated as a set here. That was why I remarked about "both". If one adds "both", data would be eliminated on those clents who ordered exclusively from one of them.

One could use "or", and it would most likely be read to mean one or the other or both at different times. But it could also be read to eliminate those clients who placed some orders with one and some orders with the other.

I like "and" in the sentence. To me, this eliminates any client who ever ordered from an agent other than the two mentioned. It includes all clients who ordered from just one, all clients who ordered from just the other, and all clients who ordered from either agent, but nobody else.
 
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Resaw

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One More Clarification Please

Mike, thanks again for your clarification and for your patience in dealing with this. I am still having some difficulty with it. Let us use some named things to replace the variables in the original question (below):

Get cid values of customers who make orders only through agent a03 and a05.

Let us substitute the following:
- make orders = buy a car
- agent a03 = red color
- agent a05 = automatic transmission

Therefore, the restated question becomes:
"Get cid values of customers who buy a car that is only red and has automatic transmission"

Essentially, this is the same question, but we have replaced the variables with specific values.

I still agree with you that inserting the word "both" make the sentence more clear, but even without the word "both", the word "and" still implies to me that the values that would be selected would have to have a the characteristics of red and automatic transmission.

I would very much appreciate it if you could explain to me why my logic is incorrect.[/quote]
 

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Re: One More Clarification Please

Resaw said:
Mike, thanks again for your clarification and for your patience in dealing with this. I am still having some difficulty with it. Let us use some named things to replace the variables in the original question (below):

Get cid values of customers who make orders only through agent a03 and a05.

Let us substitute the following:
- make orders = buy a car
- agent a03 = red color
- agent a05 = automatic transmission

Therefore, the restated question becomes:
"Get cid values of customers who buy a car that is only red and has automatic transmission"

Essentially, this is the same question, but we have replaced the variables with specific values.

I still agree with you that inserting the word "both" make the sentence more clear, but even without the word "both", the word "and" still implies to me that the values that would be selected would have to have a the characteristics of red and automatic transmission.

I would very much appreciate it if you could explain to me why my logic is incorrect.
[/quote]

I don't think that changing "agents" to attributes is analagous to the original. A car can be red and can have an automatic transmission, at the same time. It is unlkely that a client will make an order from two agents at the same time. If one asks for information on clients who order cars that are only red and automatic, one would likely provide information on those who bought red cars with automatic transmissions. One would likely not provide a list all red cars (with any transmission) and all automatic cars of any color.
 
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