"prior to"

Markus Kuhn Markus.Kuhn at cl.cam.ac.uk
Wed Jan 14 11:13:49 UTC 1998

Ken Pizzini wrote on 1998-01-13 11:54 UTC:
> There is a shade of meaning difference between the two: in
> non-technical situations the term "before" can be used to
> mean "up to and including", whereas "prior to" never seems
> to accrete the "including" meaning.

There was in the first draft of ISO 8601:1998 an annex C that tried
to standardize the precise technical meaning of such terms. However
it seems that this annex has been removed from the current second draft

The terms (as originally proposed in some CEN Medical Informatics working
group proposal) were:

  Reference time interval:                  ---------------->

  AT                                        ---------------->
  BEFORE                       ------->
  AFTER                                                         ------->

  DURING                                         ----->
  INCLUDES                     ---------------------------------------->

  CO-CONTINUES                              --------------------------->
  CO-PRECEDES                  ----------------------------->

  CO-STARTS                                 ---------->
  CO-ENDS                                        ----------->

(Make sure you use a monospaced font to display the above!)

It seems that this CEN proposal is somewhat restricted and incomplete,
but the discussion here suggests that it might nevertheless be a good
idea to have such a specification for technical discussion about temporal
structures. Better proposals?

BTW: The above proposal contradicts your interpretation of "before".


Markus G. Kuhn, Security Group, Computer Lab, Cambridge University, UK
email: mkuhn at acm.org,  home page: <http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/~mgk25/>

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