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I am looking for a single word for "the number of times a value is copied".


My company makes software for plant breeders. Breeders do observations on plants and when they create a new generation of plants, e.g. by crossings, they copy observation values to this new generation. Of course, when this is done several times, the values become less reliable because of genetic changes. So we want to show a table with values and a column with this "number of times a value is copied" (to a new generation) as a short header.

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This sounds very specific to their business domain, and rather technical, so I'd suggest asking the client what they want to see. – FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Nov 21 '11 at 14:40
Copy generation? – Unreason Nov 21 '11 at 14:45
Yes, but "generation" would suggest a connection with the genetic generation, which is not always the case. I'm looking for a "dry" word without any connotations in genetics. It might as well apply to archiving, for instance. – Gert Arnold Nov 21 '11 at 14:49
@GertArnold, well however the copy generation from your example is actually related to genetic generation (it is not equal, but it is related; the adjective copy should make enough distinction imo). Also, why not "times copied"? – Unreason Nov 21 '11 at 15:02
I don't think "generation" necessarily implies anything genetic. Before digital storage became widespread for audio/video, second generation tape, for example, was widely used to mean a tape copy made from a tape original (with consequent loss of quality always understood). – FumbleFingers Nov 21 '11 at 16:02
up vote 10 down vote accepted

Maybe propagation depth, in reference to how many generations a trait gets propagated.

Other terms that might sound less biology-related could be copy count, value copy count, iterations.

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Thanks, but see my comment above which came just a minute late. – Gert Arnold Nov 21 '11 at 14:51
@GertArnold: Ok, give me a few minutes to come up with a term that sounds less related to biology. ;) – FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Nov 21 '11 at 14:56
Thanks, one of these will certainly do! In software it is always very important to use words that do not suggest anything else. (Like a forms designer that also messes up forms). – Gert Arnold Nov 21 '11 at 15:29
Replications... – user606723 Nov 21 '11 at 19:06

You might consider using multiplicity. In mathematics this refers to the number of times the same root of an equation or zero of a function occurs.

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I must say I like this term. It is probably the canonical word. But it lacks the connotation of a time sequence that I would like to see in our context. – Gert Arnold Nov 21 '11 at 15:36

Value repetition could convey the meaning you want.

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Hmmm, sounds good... – Gert Arnold Nov 21 '11 at 14:56
I assume OP is interested in the number of generations from the original, since it makes no difference how many "siblings" are created within each generation. To me, value repetition implies the total of all copies, rather than "propagation depth". – FumbleFingers Nov 21 '11 at 15:56

I'd use a title like data age or data vintage. The latter usage would be analogous to vintage denoting the "year and vineyard or district of origin" of a wine.

Incidentally, it probably is inappropriate to say that "the values become less reliable because of genetic changes". The data does not become less reliable, it becomes less applicable to current generations.

Update: Phrase copy count is short and to the point. Also replications.

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Yes, there you are right. The words "age" and "vintage" are less applicable though, because crops vary vastly in the time it takes to get a new generation. The "number" would be related to a few months in one crop and five years in an other one. Thanks anyway. – Gert Arnold Nov 21 '11 at 15:18
See updated answer – jwpat7 Nov 21 '11 at 16:07

I just came up with preservation times, maintenance times, and persistence times for discussion.

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How about "Darwin Factor"?

Perhaps I misinterpret what it is showing, but is it demonstrating how well a genetic trait survives pressures of environment and therefore survival of the fittest from one generation to the next? i.e. the more generations a value is copied down, the "fitter" that genetic trait is?

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This would tell something about the quality of the value, but the copy count (or copy depth) has no qualification in it. It only indicates that a value may need verification. – Gert Arnold Nov 21 '11 at 21:09

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