Procrustes

From Academic Kids

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Theseus killing Procrustes with his axe, kylix 450 BC
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Theseus killing Procrustes

In Greek mythology, Procrustes ("the stretcher") was a bandit from Attica killed by Theseus. In Eleusis, he had a bed which he invited passersby to lie down in. When they did so, he either stretched them or cut off body parts to make them fit into the bed. He continued this until he encountered Theseus and ended up in his own bed.

Killing Procrustes is the last adventure of Theseus. Theseus pushed Procrustes on his own bed and chopped off his head and feet.

Procrustes was a nickname for Damastus, Procoptas, or Polypemon.

Any attempt to reduce men to one standard, one way of thinking, or one way of acting, is called placing them on Procrustes' bed, and the person who makes the attempt is called Procrustes.

Ovid VII, 438.

The moral of the story is used as a metaphor for life: I make my own bed, and lie in it.fr:Procustede:prokrustessv:Prokrustes

Other meanings

Procrustes analysis is the name for the process of performing a shape preserving Euclidean transformation to a set of shapes. This removes variations in translation, rotation and scaling across the dataset, so to move them into a common frame of reference. This is generally the precursor to further statistical analysis.

A Procrustean string in computer science is a fixed length string into which can be placed strings of varying lengths. If the string inserted is too short, then it is padded out, usually with spaces or null characters. If the string inserted is too long, it is truncated. This term was made somewhat popular by its use and explanation in the Sinclair ZX81 user manual. Although the term did not catch on in wider usage, it appears in some references, notably FOLDOC.

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