The Principle of Scale That Guides Great Design

A scale measures weight. From the slightly skewed spring scale hanging around the produce aisle to the pit-and-girder monsters that weigh train cars and tractor-trailers, most scales work through devices called load cells.

Scale development can be deductive or inductive, and methods for item generation may include literature review or interviews with the target population. Previous studies have found that a large number of items are lost during the scaling process.

Definition

The principle of scale that guides great design can be confusing. It’s easy to get it wrong, but once you grasp it correctly you can use it to your advantage.

Scale is a ratio that represents the relative size of a model of an object or distance to the actual object or distance. A scale drawing or map is an accurate representation of a real object drawn to a specific ratio.

A series of fixed intervals, especially one beginning on a particular note: the major scale.

A scaly oxide film, as on iron that has been heated to high temperatures. Also called a scale incrustation.

Functions

Scale functions provide a variety of methods for transforming data. For example, scale() can increase the size of two-dimensional vectors by multiplying the value by a number. This method can also be used to transform 3-D shapes.

Another function is scaleThreshold, which maps continuous numeric input to a set of discrete values. It can also divide an integer into quartiles, or calculate the mean and standard deviation of a list of numbers.

The scale function can be used to classify music into diatonic, chromatic, and minor types based on their interval patterns. The scale function can also be used to create chord progressions in blues music.

Lastly, the scale function can be used to determine plus and minus weights. This can be useful for comparing items to a known weight for quality control purposes.

Examples

In the field of architecture, a scale is used to communicate relative proportions of different elements of a building. For example, the Greeks were able to comprehend the proportions of their temples by employing a module that was human-sized and could be easily grasped. This was key to their success, as it allowed them to perceive relationships between elements that were too far away to measure.

In other fields, such as the field of music, scales are employed to communicate intervals in a composition. Claude Debussy’s L’Isle Joyeuse is a good example of this. Interval scales have the properties of nominal and ordered variables, but they also allow for the calculation of ratios and proportions.

Architectural drawings are often made to scale, and it is important to choose the right scale for each drawing. This ensures that the drawing is clearly understood and can be reproduced accurately. Custom scales tend to show inexperience, and must be accompanied by a scale bar, so architects should always aim to use one of the set scales that are available.

Applications

Application scalability is the ability of an application to handle increasing demands without losing functionality or becoming slow and unresponsive. This feature is important in ensuring customer satisfaction and keeping businesses competitive.

Scalable applications are designed to support multiple load levels and can be scaled horizontally by adding additional web servers. This approach is common for websites, but it requires the system architecture to be designed with decoupled services so that the parallel servers do not exchange data.

Companies can benefit from economies of scale by passing on lower prices to customers, boosting loyalty and encouraging new business. This also allows them to invest in research and development, improve products, and provide higher wages or profit-sharing programs for employees. However, a single-minded focus on scale can have negative consequences, such as reducing opportunities for innovation, stunting employee growth and numbing sensitivity to industry changes. Diseconomies of scale can also arise from a lack of adequate transportation networks and inefficient production methods.

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