Taxonomy is the practice and science of classification. Originally
designed by Swedish botanist Carolus Linnaeus in the 18th Century for
the classification of living things, taxonomy is now applied in a much
wider sense, to include things and ideas, even.
The word “taxonomy” is from the Greek “taxis”,
meaning arrangement or division and “nomos”, meaning law.
The resulting catalog is used to provide a conceptual framework for
discussion, analysis, or information retrieval. In theory, the development
of a good taxonomy takes into account the importance of separating elements
of a group (taxon) into subgroups (taxa) that are mutually exclusive,
unambiguous, and taken together, include all possibilities. In practice,
a good taxonomy should be simple, easy to remember, and easy to use.
Alpha taxonomy is defined by classifying living organisms according
to their evolutionary relationships (phylogeny). This usually includes
describing, identification, naming (nomenclature), and classification
(a hierarchy of group relationships). Taxonomy may also be called “systematics”
Put simply, Carolus Linnaeus’ taxonomy is the study of biological
Of the 1.5 million species named, most of these are insects (750,000)
other invertebrates (250,000), plants (260,000), and algae, bacteria,
fungi, protozoa (220,000). In comparison there are known 40,000 species
of fish, 9,600 birds, and only 4,500 mammals. Estimates of actual species
diversity range from 4 million to 100 million species – almost
all of the yet-to-be-discovered species are microscopic (many are bacteria).
It has been argued that evolution is the core of modern taxonomy. A
taxonomy might also be a simple organization of kinds of things into
groups, or even an alphabetical list. However, the term “vocabulary”
is more appropriate for such a list. In current usage within "Knowledge
Management", taxonomies are seen as less broad than ontologies,
as ontologies apply a larger variety of relation types (ideas).