At least intuitively, I understand the following terms to be rigorously associated:

  • Field Separator (FS) as a delimiter which delimits text segments such as words, sentences or lines/fields and an example would be an Input Field Separator / Internal Field Separator (IFS)
  • Indentation character:
    • Whitespace character
    • Tabulation character
    • Other, less standard, indentation characters
  • Line break character:
    • (non-carriage-return) Line Feed (LF)
    • Carriage Return Line Feed (CRLF)
    • Other, less standard, line break characters

If a field separator delimits text segments (one ore more byte/s before it, in one or more field/s) I would personally name it a text segment separator and not a field separator.

Do Field separators delimit only fields or also data units (sub-fields / "words and sentences") inside fields?

  • $\begingroup$ It's not entirely clear what context you are speaking in. A "field" is a data processing concept - typically (and I'm speaking offhand here), it defines an addressable area of storage. A "field separator" is one way of expressing the boundaries of those areas. "Text" is typically the content of a field - the thing that is stored - although it could technically contain fields itself if it is structured for data processing. Text can be segmented in many ways, such as with "punctuation", but these segments would not usually be "fields" in the sense of "addressable area of storage". $\endgroup$
    – Steve
    Mar 10 at 12:09
  • $\begingroup$ Hello Steve; I thank you for trying to come to my aid; I have edited the question trying to make it clearer and sharper ; the context is a theoretical formal definition from computer science for a "field separator" which could serve as a common denominator for all of the different (shell-CLI) utilizations of "field separators". I just assume that indeed there is some background in computer science for these terms (IFS/RFS and alike). $\endgroup$
    – timesharer
    Mar 10 at 15:25
  • $\begingroup$ I'm afraid to say that the question isn't the slightest bit more clear from my point of view. Are you using the words "words" and "sentences" in their ordinary capacity as words which describe blocks of everyday English language text - in which case the appropriate word for the separators of such "text segments" are "whitespace" and "punctuation" - or are you referring to something else? There is no such thing as a "field" in ordinary English language - a field (in the only sense which appears to be relevant here) is an element of structured data. $\endgroup$
    – Steve
    Mar 10 at 15:33
  • $\begingroup$ To be clear, a "field" is an element which forms part of a structure or a schema for the storage of data. A "field separator" is something that is typically used in parsing to mark the boundary of a variable-length field, although equally a length prefix could also be used (and fields can then exist without separators). $\endgroup$
    – Steve
    Mar 10 at 15:37
  • $\begingroup$ By words and sentences I meant to code pieces; single commands or concatenated commands --- all inside a field, as a "data structure", indeed. $\endgroup$
    – timesharer
    Mar 10 at 15:40

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.