Constrained Information Models
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A central idea of the HL7 V3 approach is that of constraining or refining a general model, for the specific use case being considered, by limiting optionality. This idea of constraining a general model to create an agreed subset and interpretation of the specification is widespread in the standards world. Such constrained specifications are called profiles.
Many standards have a large number of optional aspects, and if different suppliers do not implement the same subset, they will fail to interoperate. The use of profiles is a way to enforce a particular interpretation to ensure interoperability.
The idea of constrained information models creates a tree-like hierarchy of possible models. At the root lies the RIM. Everything else is a constraint on the RIM.