DELTA and INTKEY

Mike Dallwitz miked at ENTO.CSIRO.AU
Tue Jan 24 09:39:12 CST 1995


                                                                24 January 1995

> From: Pooi-Leng Wong <PooiLeng_Wong at MBNET.MB.CA>
>
> I do not know what INTKEY is. Could someone enlighten me on this subject and
> how I could get access to it if I find it may be useful to me.

The DELTA system is an integrated set of programs for recording and processing
taxonomic descriptions. The facilities available include the generation and
typesetting of descriptions and conventional keys, conversion of data for use
by classification programs, and the construction of INTKEY packages for
interactive identification and information retrieval. The system has been
developed by the CSIRO Division of Entomology over a period of 20 years, and is
in use worldwide for diverse kinds of organisms, including viruses, corals,
crustaceans, insects, fish, fungi, plants, and wood. The DELTA data format has
been adopted as a standard for data exchange by the International Working Group
on Taxonomic Databases for Plant Sciences.

The DELTA system is capable of producing high-quality printed descriptions. The
most important or diagnostic attributes (derived automatically or manually) for
each taxon can be emphasized in full descriptions, or short descriptions
containing only these attributes can be produced.

The DELTA program KEY generates conventional identification keys. Keys can be
tailored for specific purposes, for example, for particular countries or
climates; using only vegetative, floral, or fruit characters; starting with
important characters; or biased towards common species.

DELTA data can easily be converted to the forms required by programs for
phylogenetic analysis, e.g. PAUP, HENNIG86, and MacClade. The characters and
taxa required for these analyses can be selected from the full data set.
Numeric characters, which cannot be handled by these programs, are converted to
multistate characters. Printed descriptions can be generated to facilitate
checking of the data, and INTKEY can be used for further data checking, and for
finding differences, similarities, and correlations among the taxa.

INTKEY is available for MS-DOS and SunOS, and a version for MS-Windows will be
released soon. It offers better and more comprehensive features than any
similar program. These features include: entry and deletion of attributes in
any order during an identification; calculation of the `best' characters for
use in identification; the ability to allow for errors (whether made by the
user or in the data); the ability to express variability or uncertainty in
attributes; optional display of notes on characters; direct handling of numeric
values, including ranges of values and non-contiguous sets of values;
restricting operations to subsets of characters or taxa; listing similarities
or differences between taxa; generating diagnosic descriptions for specimens or
taxa, to specified degrees of redundancy; coalescing descriptions (e.g. to
generate accurate generic descriptions from species descriptions); screen
display of illustrations of characters and taxa; complete on-line help; and
acceptable response times with large sets of data.

To produce descriptions, keys, and INTKEY packages in different languages, it
is only necessary to translate the character list. Data sets have been produced
in Chinese, Dutch, French, German, Greek, Indonesian, Portuguese, and Spanish.
Some of the programs and documentation have been translated into Chinese,
French, German, Japanese, Malay, Portuguese, and Spanish. INTKEY is currently
available in English, French, German, Malay, and Portuguese versions.

The DELTA programs, and several data sets, are available by gopher or anonymous
ftp from the following Internet hosts.
    muse.bio.cornell.edu  (directory: /pub/delta)
    spider.ento.csiro.au  (directory: /delta)

The file Index.txt (note the upper-case I) contains a list of the available
programs and data. To view this file during an ftp session, give the ftp
commands `get Index.txt' and `! more < Index.txt'. Most of the subdirectories
of delta contain a file Download.1st which contains information about
downloading and installing the files in that subdirectory. Files other than
.1st, .txt, and .ps must be transmitted in binary mode (set by the ftp command
`binary').

The programs are supplied with documentation files, sample data, and a list of
references.

Mike Dallwitz                                  Internet md at ento.csiro.au
CSIRO Division of Entomology                   Fax +61 6 246 4000
GPO Box 1700, Canberra ACT 2601, Australia     Phone +61 6 246 4075




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