When we were younger, my brother and I loved to take apart gadgets to see what made them tick. My grandmother would buy used clocks, radios, and other electronic devices so that we could take a hammer to them, bashing them to bits to see what was inside and how they worked. One of the things we noticed was that even though they were different on the outside, most seemed to have the same parts as other clocks. In fact, once we'd removed the outer covers and taken everything apart, we could no longer tell which part came from which clock, but we could sort all the pieces into similar parts. Cogs, wheels, and springs were sorted into piles of similar shape. If we'd had enough time and will, we probably could have built a new clock out of these components.

I remember asking why these parts looked so similar and why some of them even had the same numbers on them. In fact, some clocks had the same parts that radios did. My grandfather explained to me that it was cheaper and easier for companies to build their products if they could use similar parts. It also made it easier for the builders and fixers to work with the same parts. He showed me how he replaced a component of a radio with a new part to fix it. He was able to do this because the parts followed similar patterns. I thought this was brilliant.

I am delighted to write this foreword for what I believe is the most important volume of the Universal Data Model book series. The Data Model Resource Book, Volume 3: Universal Patterns ...

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