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Cross-domain definition of sample: 

Thing or subset (real or virtual) which is intended to be representative of a larger thing or set. A sample is created or selected for the purpose of making observations or measurements to determine the value of one or more properties, traits or qualities of the larger thing. The essential property of a sample is the 'is-sample-of' relationship with the larger thing. 

A material-sample is sometimes known as a specimen, and is typically selected to allow ex-situ observations. 

A statistical sample or subset is a specified number of individuals from a population. 

A spatial sample may have a lower topologic dimension than the thing which it represents

  • a point (0-D sample) within a curve (1-D), surface (2-D) or volume (3-D), 
    • e.g. monitoring station, pixel
  • a curve (1-D) within a surface (2-D) or volume (3-D), 
    • e.g. transect, flightline, cruise track, borehole trace
  • a surface (2-D) within a volume (3-D)
    • e.g. cross-section

or may have the same dimension but a smaller extent

  • interval within a curve
  • quadrat within a tract
  • core from a body of rock. 

Samples are often related to other samples, either through sub-sampling, or as members of a sequence of siblings, or through specific treatments that transform the original sample into one or more new samples. The nature of the relationship is important, but the complete set of relationships cannot be enumerated as this is an important area of innovation. 

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