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Is there any word to describe something that has lightning/tree/vein like structure?

Edit:

I forgot to mention that I'd prefer a word that emphasizes the random nature of these structures. Otherwise branching (as suggested by Harrold) seems fitting.

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3 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

The term branching structure is commonly used in the graph theory to describe a type of hierarchy.

Edit: The best I could come up with after you edited your question is to describe it as something-shaped, for example lightning-shaped. No term that I can remember of apart from e.g. specific computational algorithms does incorporate the randomness.

Second edit: I have just remembered the word stochastic or pedesis, while the latter is another term for Brownian movement. Considering these terms, you may utilise something like stochastic branching structure if you need to appear appealing. That is my current limit, I am afraid. :-)

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Stochastic is perfect, that's exactly the type of word I was looking for, thanks :) –  Curious Little Guy Jul 4 '11 at 22:06
    
@Curious Little Guy I am glad I could help. –  Harold Cavendish Jul 4 '11 at 22:07
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What about the word dendritic?

It comes from the Greek word for tree, and considering it is primarily used for natural entities such as cells in the body, and dendritic solidification structures, I think it encapsulates the random aspect that you are looking for beautifully.

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+1 dendritic is a very good suggestion but stochastic is a better fit for naming a software class :) –  Curious Little Guy Jul 4 '11 at 23:19
    
@CuriousLittleGuy: Oops, I didn't realise you were after a word to describe an abstract entity. You're right, dendritic doesn't really fit; it's mainly used for physical, (often fractal-like) structures. –  bracho monacho Jul 4 '11 at 23:28
    
It's my fault anyway for not giving enough information in the first place. TBH I wasn't very sure what I was looking for :) –  Curious Little Guy Jul 4 '11 at 23:31
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  • informal: zig-zag, jagged, or forked
  • formal/technical: furcated (like a fork), or reticulate (like a net)
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I'm not a native speaker but I have a strong feeling that none of these suggestions capture the fractal-like(?) shape of lightning. Thanks for your answer –  Curious Little Guy Jul 4 '11 at 23:25
    
Also, being a Greek, I have a strong bias towards Greek-rooted words that I can understand better. (stochastic - στοχαστική and dendritic - δενδρική) –  Curious Little Guy Jul 4 '11 at 23:29
    
@Curious: I'm curious as to why fractal isn't the word you are looking for. –  user1579 Jul 5 '11 at 0:00
    
My initial question was poorly written mostly because I wasn't sure what I was looking for. To indulge your curiosity I have created a web-crawler that uses some helper (model) classes to determine the crawling paths. One of these classes (the most efficient btw) is using a weighted semi-random approach to decide the next URL to crawl. RandomModel seemed a bit underestimating for the complexity of the algorithm behind it. Anyway, since the paths taken with this method resembled a lightning I shoot the question to see what could come out. StochasticModel seems better than FractalModel for this. –  Curious Little Guy Jul 5 '11 at 1:38
    
Also fractal has Latin roots... (j/k) –  Curious Little Guy Jul 5 '11 at 1:42
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