We can think of humans as a symbolic species. By this, I mean that we use a number of characters and scripts to represent abstract things. These symbols are used by us to communicate with each other, our outside world, and our abstract thoughts. Symbolic representation is used in written language, math, and music notation. Dolphins or monkeys, while very intelligent, do not by themselves use any written symbols to communicate with each other. I'm not mentioning this simply as a philosophical musing. I think this is directly useful to consider when reaching for ideas on how to fully capture and represent our data.
In this chapter, we'll cover the following topics: