MITCH (Modularized Informatics To Categorize Hierarchies
) is a software platform designed to construct pattern languages
. A pattern language consists of a cascade or hierarchy of parts, linked together by patterns which solve generic recurring problems associated with the parts. The term was coined by architect Christopher Alexander and popularized by his book A Pattern Language
A pattern language is comprised patterns, linked together in a hierarchy. Alexander defines a 'pattern' as a three-part construct. First comes the 'context' - the conditions under which this pattern holds. Next is a 'system of forces'. In many ways, it is natural to think of this as the 'problem' or 'goal'. The third part is the 'solution' - a configuration that balances the system of forces or solves the problems presented. A pattern language provides modular, inter-connected concepts which can be accessed in any order and which automatically lead the reader to other patterns that might interest him or her. Each pattern has a title and collectively the titles form a language. In this network, the links between the patterns are almost as much a part of the language as the patterns themselves.
In a pattern language individual patterns are not isolated. The structure of the language is composed of the links from larger patterns to smaller patterns, together creating a network. Thus, for a single pattern to work fully, it must not only be followed through by implementing the smaller patterns that complete it, it must if at all possible be connected to certain larger patterns. The links from larger (predecessor) patterns to smaller (successor) patterns in this network define the order in which the patterns should be applied to a design. This is called the Pattern Language sequence, but the sequence is not mechanically linear.
In A Pattern Language
, Alexander and his colleagues extracted 253 solutions or design "patterns" that recur in architecture. Pattern languages can be used in any field in an attempt to express the deeper wisdom of what brings aliveness
within a particular field of human endeavor, through a set of interconnected expressions arising from that wisdom. Aliveness is one placeholder term for "the quality that has no name": a sense of wholeness, spirit, or grace, that while of varying form, is precise and empirically verifiable.
Pattern languages are inherrently generative; i.e capable of engineering emergent phenomena. Thus their development and use consitutes a hallmark of generative medicine. This is enhanced in MITCH by the concurrent use of meta-heuristics
acting on and informing patterns when can themselves be heuristic.
A physician can design an approach using available patterns; pick those that are most relevant to the problem at hand, then choose related patterns from an existing patterns catalog, identify a dimension appropriate to the process that generates the end product, and study how the generative process develops as one moves up the levels of scale. Generative patterns work indirectly; they work on the underlying structure of a problem (which may not be manifest in the problem) rather than attacking the problem directly. Good design patterns are like that: they encode the deep structure of a solution and its associated forces, rather than cataloging a solution.
MITCH designed as 'an adaptive toolbox' for generative physicians. It is written in Perl by Peter D'Adamo for the Center of Excellence in Generative Medicine at the University of Bridgeport. The language was named in honor of Mitch Bebel Stargrove, an early pioneer in naturopathic pattern research.