[Humanist] 26.833 medieval cooking books

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Fri Mar 1 07:41:06 CET 2013


                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 26, No. 833.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

  [1]   From:    Patrick Durusau <patrick at durusau.net>                     (65)
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 26.827 medieval cooking books

  [2]   From:    Tom Salyers <tom.d.salyers at gmail.com>                     (53)
        Subject: Re:  26.827 eBook platforms? database? Arabic OCR?
                Leeuwenhoek & Swift?


--[1]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Thu, 28 Feb 2013 05:29:24 -0500
        From: Patrick Durusau <patrick at durusau.net>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 26.827 medieval cooking books
        In-Reply-To: <20130228062756.E96FA114D at digitalhumanities.org>


On 02/28/2013 01:27 AM, Catalina Macias wrote :
>
> Hello!
>
> I'€™m currently a Master Student in History and Culture of Alimentation,
> working on a project related with medieval cooking books of the 14th
> century. With the aim to identify and classify all the information contained
> in one particular book I have divided it in three big groups – so three
> main “tables”-: ingredients and its properties (name, color, image,
> origin…), recipes and its techniques (dietetic values, number and names of
> ingredients…), and menus and its contents (number of courses, number of
> recipes, religious values…). These tables are dependent on each other
> because, for example, the information of the ingredients will be used to
> complete the one of the recipes, and the latter for the menus. With this in
> mind I would like to create a database that allows me to use this
> information in a way where I would be able to accomplish the following
> purposes:
>
> 1. Find the way to actually make possible these connections between these
> three tables by integrating in the second group parts of the first one, and
> this one on the third one, and the other way around.
>
> 2. Having an interface practically enough to be filled and appropriate to
> answer questions like: in which percentage an x ingredient is used, which
> combinations of ingredients are more common, which preparations are more
> related with fasting periods…
>
> 3. Filling the database online so that, once it’s complete, it will be
> available for further researches on the topic for example with statistics
> purposes.
>
> Eventually I would like to amplify the use of this database by introducing
> different texts and thus, create a cookbooks’ historical database research
> tool.

 From your description of the relationships you want to create, a graph 
database might be the best fit as you explore the text. The deeper you 
get into the text, the more exceptions you are likely to have to any 
initial data modeling assumptions. Graphs databases have fewer 
difficulties with that issue.

Depending on the complexity of your analysis, Neo4j, 
http://www.neo4j.org, has a query language, interface and active user 
community concerned with visualization. (in addition to having an 
community (read "free") version.)

There are other graph databases and in the long run, if you do 
incorporate other texts and therefore other perspectives, you may want 
to think about topic maps. Topic maps don't require normalization to a 
single perspective but can enable each perspective to be mapped to 
others. But that is a step beyond your exploring of this text and a 
graph database does not impede your migration to a topic map at some 
later date.

I recently started baking, after years as a spectator to cooking so am 
interested in any bread recipes your research uncovers!

Best of luck with your project!

Patrick

-- 
Patrick Durusau
patrick at durusau.net
Technical Advisory Board, OASIS (TAB)
Former Chair, V1 - US TAG to JTC 1/SC 34
Convener, JTC 1/SC 34/WG 3 (Topic Maps)
Editor, OpenDocument Format TC (OASIS), Project Editor ISO/IEC 26300
Co-Editor, ISO/IEC 13250-1, 13250-5 (Topic Maps)

Another Word For It (blog): http://tm.durusau.net
Homepage: http://www.durusau.net
Twitter: patrickDurusau



--[2]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Thu, 28 Feb 2013 14:03:33 +0000
        From: Tom Salyers <tom.d.salyers at gmail.com>
        Subject: Re:  26.827 eBook platforms? database? Arabic OCR? Leeuwenhoek & Swift?
        In-Reply-To: <20130228062756.E96FA114D at digitalhumanities.org>


Hi, Catalina. To answer your last question first: you're almost
certainly going to have to do some sort of custom application in a
relational DB like MySQL, especially if you want to make it widely
available online later. MySQL is pretty much ubiquitous, and is a
standard feature of just about any web hosting company you can think
of. On to the specific database stuff, but keep in mind that it's been
a while since I did any serious database work, so my advice may not be
the best:

> 1. Find the way to actually make possible these connections between these
> three tables by integrating in the second group parts of the first one,
> and
> this one on the third one, and the other way around.

What you've got there is what's called a many-to-many relationship
between these tables--for example, a recipe can have multiple
ingredients, and an individual ingredient can appear in multiple
recipes. (The canonical example for this is books and authors; one
book can have several authors, and an author can write several books.)
Many-to-many relationships are a little awkward to implement in a
relational database, and the usual workaround is to create a third
intermediate, or "junction", table between the two where each row is a
unique combination of, say, a given recipe ID and ingredient ID. It
sounds more complicated than it actually is but it solves a lot of
structural problems, and it can be made easier with a schema designer
like the ones at http://www.dbschemaeditor.com/OnlineDB.aspx or
http://dbdsgnr.appspot.com/app# (both of which will conveniently
export to MySQL).

> 2. Having an interface practically enough to be filled and appropriate to
> answer questions like: in which percentage an x ingredient is used, which
> combinations of ingredients are more common, which preparations are more
> related with fasting periods…

  The interface will of course depend on which front end you choose
(for instance, PHP), but what you're describing can be accomplished
with the right SQL reporting. Again, though, it's been a while since
I've done this sort of thing, so I'll defer to my betters here.

> 3. Filling the database online so that, once it’s complete, it will be
> available for further researches on the topic for example with statistics
> purposes.

This should be fairly easy, especially if you stick with MySQL. You
may even want to go one step farther and let users download the
database setup files themselves so they can work with the data
locally, as the WordHoard project did
(http://wordhoard.northwestern.edu/userman/index.html).

 I hope all this helps you at least a bit. Let me know if you have any
questions or need some more information. Good luck!

--
Tom Salyers





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