In trying to do some tag cleanup for OS related tags I came upon the tag. This tag has at least three different meanings in the context of cs.se.

  1. The sense, in which the kernel refers to the central software component that manages, schedules and controls access to resources in general, and to input/output devices more specifically. Here is the definition from the SO kernel tag.
  2. The sense in which a kernel refers (I think) to an multi-dimensional operator mapping from one space to another. Here is the definition from the CrossValidated kernel tag.
  3. The sense in which a kernel refers (I think) to an algorithm input that has been preprocessed into a simpler form that can be fed to an already existing algorithm.
  4. There are several more meanings, one in image processing (although dsp.se does not have such a tag) and one in gpgpu programming (which is probably not relevant to us.)

There are currently 17 questions tagged . 5 of them are from the os.se migration that happened earlier today. 8 more are existing questions that are also tagged , 2 more are existing questions that are not also tagged , but should be. Finally the last 2 are tagged .

There are several possibilities for what to do. One is to create three different tags , , for the three different uses respectively. Another is to use in the machine-learning sense, and then use the tag wiki to direct operating systems kernel questions to use and parametrized complexity questions to use . (And there are doubtlessly other ways to handle it.)


1 Answer 1


I recommend introducing the two tags and , and then introducing a tag synonym -> .

I do not think we need a special tag for "kernel" in the context of parametrized complexity. That's a niche topic and I don't think we need such a specialized tag. As far as I can tell, we don't currently have any questions like that.

I definitely do not recommend using to mean the machine-learning sense. We currently have 17 existing questions tagged . 15 of them relate to the OS sense. 2 of them relate to the machine learning sense. 0 of them relate to the parametrized complexity sense. If we have to pick a single meaning for , it should clearly be the OS meaning, as that is far more common.

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    $\begingroup$ I agree that kernel for the machine learning sense would be bad: a large fraction of computer scientists will recognize "kernel" as an operating systems term and a much smaller fraction as a machine learning term. If kernel were to mean only the machine learning sense, a large fraction of questions about OS kernels will need to be retagged. (Admittedly, that's a small number of questions in total but principle of least surprise and all that.) $\endgroup$ Sep 12, 2014 at 16:39
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    $\begingroup$ I'm not sure what the best tag for the machine-learning version is, but I am in favor of ditching kernel completely and using more clear tags for all occurrences of the term. $\endgroup$
    – Raphael Mod
    Sep 15, 2014 at 10:18
  • $\begingroup$ Implemented as of September 25th. $\endgroup$
    – Raphael Mod
    Sep 26, 2014 at 8:54

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