Ab initio


Ab initio

The Latin term ab initio means "from the beginning" and is used in several contexts:

* when describing literature: "told from the beginning" as opposed to "in medias res" (meaning "starting in the middle of the story")

* as a legal term: refers to something being the case from the start or from the instant of the act, rather than from when the court declared it so. A judicial declaration of the invalidity of a marriage "ab initio" is a nullity.

* in science: A calculation is said to be "ab initio" (or "from first principles") if it relies on basic and established laws of nature without additional assumptions or special models.

:For example, an ab initio calculation of the properties of liquid water might start with the properties of the constituent hydrogen and oxygen atoms and the laws of electrodynamics. From these basics, the properties of isolated individual water molecules would be derived, followed by computations of the interactions of larger and larger groups of water molecules, until the bulk properties of water had been determined.

*in chemistry: an abbreviation referring to ab initio quantum chemistry methods
*in biophysics: a method for the prediction of protein structures in protein folding
* in aviation: The very first stage of flight training.

* as part of some educational qualifications: foreign languages may be taken "ab initio" - for beginners. Incidentally, "ab initio" is the name given to the two-year language programme offered in the International Baccalaureate programme. Students who have transferred from one school to another, which don't offer the same language classes, make take an "ab initio" form of language -- obtaining three credits (approximately three school years of a language) during the two year IB period.

* in computing: Ab Initio is an extract, transform, load tool used to manipulate data.

* in bioinformatics: a term used to define methods for making predictions about biological features using only a computational model without extrinsic comparison to existing data. In this context, it may be sometimes interchangeable with the Latin term "de novo".


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