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Short Description

Identification is an act, by or on behalf of a party, that results in either the selection of

  1. a single partial identity that the party owns, given some (observed or received) data, or
  2. a single entity from a given set of entities that is the subject of a specified partial identity that the party owns.
Editor's note

We may also need some texts that are readable for the audience that isn't those that are not well-acquainted with the terminology and related mental models about (partial) identities.

An example of the first clause is where you answer the door for a person. The first thing you do is to observe characteristics of that person, and see if there is a match with the characteristics in one of the partial identities that you have in your knowledge. In case you have trouble finding one (e.g. when you suspect it might be an acquaintance that you haven't seen for a long time) you may ask questions, eliciting further observations that allow you to select a specific partial identity. A sigh of relief may signal that the act of identification has successfully terminated. If you didn't find a partial identity, you would typically (and automatically) start to construct one, which would enable you to identify this person in future situations.

An example of the second clause is where you need to see or talk to a specific entity, i.e. an entity that - since you know it exists - you have a (single) partial identity for. Here, you acquire characteristics for the various entities that you encounter until you find a match with that partial identity. Then, you proceed to interact with that entity as you intended.

Issues/misunderstandings related to identification can easily arise, because if an entity is known to exist by different parties, they would each have different partial identities for it, which may cause misunderstandings in communications if parties are unaware of these differences.

One of various well-known problems related to identification is the transfer of files/dossiers, e.g. in the health and education domains. Since (the contents of) such files represent knowledge about their subject, and the partial identity of that subject that is owned by the owner of such files includes all knowledge about that subject, the knowledge represented in the file are a part of this partial identity. Now when such files are transferred to another party, the receiving party has to make sure that these files are associated with that party's partial identity of that same subject.

Non-human actors can also perform identification. However, since they cannot access the partial identities of their employer (because these reside in the information domain - see the identity pattern), they have to do with may be referred to as a user/account registration. Such registrations contain 'user records' or 'accounts', each of which represents an excerpt of a specific partial identity, that contains all necessary data for the non-human actor to execute the actions that it is tasked with. Typically, a user record would contain a username, i.e. an identifier that the actor can use to identify the user record. Also, it typically contains authentication data, e.g. a password, that the actor can use to ensure that the user is the actual subject of the user record (account) that it has selected. However, it would also contain additional data to facilitate further interactions between this actor and the user, e.g. role assignments or other attributes.

More related texts can be found in the