Okay, the whole subject heading is: random walks (mathematics).
That doesn’t sound quite as, well random, as with it unqualified. Still, when I first set eyes on this one, curiosity drove me to figure out the meaning–that and the item in hand.
Turns out that Wikipedia has a great article explaining the term, even if you are a librarian with no math capabilities nor inclinations; yeah right, who would that be? The term refers to data sets that have no defined path–such as, says Wikipedia, the drunkard’s walk. See we can learn math still and it can be interesting!
The fun part is the LC authority file:
Not only are we blessed with random walks but we also get self-avoiding walks (mathematics). Yes! These occur when the data set prefers not to return to a point that it’s already been. Simple enough, huh? I’m sure if a mathematician were to read this, there would be comments left complaining about my oversimplification. But it makes sense to me and now I can, and have, used this subject heading!
Lately, word has consisted of difficult math texts that also happen to be thought-provoking. Another one was on the math of card tricks. However, both that work and the one on random walks were stuffed full of complex equations and dense technical explanations. As cool as they are, for me I can merely just catalog them rather than sit down to read and, gasp, enjoy them. But they are ready and waiting for those who can! And, they have my sweet cataloging to help those smart users find them.
Cavet: I’ve been doing a lot of this odd subject headings recently mainly because they relate directly to my work and what I’ve been up to and thinking about. Next week, I’ll post about a theoretical cataloging idea to spice things up again.