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n. in legal (not sociological) terms, all those persons in the same category, level of rights (e.g. heirs of dead person who are related by the same degree), or who have suffered from the same incident. Whether a person is part of a class is often crucial in determining who can sue on behalf of the people who have been similarly damaged or collect his/her share if a class action judgment is given. (See: class action)

Copyright © 1981-2005 by Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill. All Right reserved.

CLASS. The order according to which are arranged or distributed, or are supposed to be arranged or distributed, divers persons or things; thus we say, a class of legatees.
     2. When a legacy is given to a class of individuals, all who answer the description at the time the will takes effect, are entitled; and though the expression be in the plural, yet if there be but one, he shall take the whole. 3 M'Cord, Ch. R. 440.
     3. When a bond is given to a class of persons, it is good, and all composing that class are entitled to sue upon it; but if the obligor be a member of such class, the bond is void, because a man cannot be obligor and obligee at the same time; as, if a bond be given to the justices of the county court, and at the time the obligor is himself one of said justices. 3 Dev. 284, 287,289; 4 Dev. 882.
     4. When a charge is made against a class of society, a profession, an order or body of men, and cannot possibly import a personal application to private injury, no action lies; but if any one of the class have sustained special damages in consequence of such charge, he may maintain an action. 17 Wend. 52, 23, 186. See 12 John. 475. When the charge is against one of a class, without designating which, no action lies; as, where three persons had been examined as witnesses, and the defendant said in addressing himself to them, "one of you three is perjured." 1 Roll. Ab. 81; Cro. Jac. 107; 16 Pick. 132.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
References in periodicals archive ?
--Optimistic Synchronization: In principle, if an update reads an instance variable, computes a new value that does not depend on a different variable that another operation might update, then writes the new value back into the variable, the update should be a candidate for optimistic synchroniztion.
--No operation accesses an instance variable of a nested object of the receiver or an instance variable declared in a class from which the receiver's class inherits.
It tests if the two operations have different receivers or if neither operation writes an instance variable that the other accesses.
To help ensure that the symbolic execution builds expressions that correctly denote the new values of instance variables, the compiler checks that no auxiliary method writes an instance variable of the receiver.
For example, all instance variables of a class should bear distinct names, no loops are allowed in the hierarchy, the attributes defined in a class should be inherited by all its subclasses, and so on.
If only nonpublic parts of the class are modified, such as methods visible only to subclasses, or the types of instance variables, then versioning can be limited to its existing subclasses.
For example, I would define class Polygon as abstract, i.e., with no instance variables. I would define VertexPolygon as a subclass of Polygon to provide a standard representation of a polygon as a list of vertices.